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Letter: NY election law daunts candidates

A voter marks his ballot via cell phone

A voter marks his ballot via cell phone light at the generator powered First United Methodist Church in Oceanside, New York. (Nov. 6, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The problem with New York elections is not the Wilson-Pakula statute of which Frank Scaturro complains ["Change this obscure election law" [Opinion, Jan. 29], but the entire election code; it needs to be junked.

New York's election laws have been described as mazelike by courts, Byzantine and labyrinthine by law journals -- and the words candidates use are not for polite company. The New York City Bar estimates that as much as half of all election litigation in the United States is in New York. Door-to-door petitioning discourages the disabled and the elderly.

The typical result is that the nominee is not an ordinary citizen but is hand-picked by party bosses. This partly explains why Long Island's Republican legislators often vote, lemming-like, for things that Republicans in other states would balk at.

The larger tragedy is the lack of democracy. Much like the old Soviet Union, our officials are often selected, not elected, and the vote is largely for show. Consequently, New York ranks at the top in dysfunction. We do not have an election code; we have a job-security scheme for incumbents.

Martin Dekom, Manhasset