The recent realization that Toni Hokanson’s name will be present on the ballot on Nov. 8 as an option for New Paltz’s town supervisor, despite her public withdrawal from the race, has us at The New Paltz Oracle troubled.
Whether you are of the opinion that the withdrawl announcement on the cover of The New Paltz Times was an attempt for publicity or not, the fact remains that Hokanson’s name appearing on the ballot after rescinding her candidcay, so to speak, is proof of flawed election laws that need to be reviewed and revised.
We believe it is presumptuous to assume that the announcement was a ploy for advertising in a race where a hail-mary pass would be the only option for re-election. However, the real issue is that the opportunity for that to happen in the first place was even available.
We live in a digital age where computers give us the option to connect instantaneously with one another and edit mistakes with the click of a button. Why is it so difficult to assume that a candidate’s name could not be taken off of a ballot once they withdraw from a race?
Despite absentee ballots being sent out and other parameters weighing in on why Hokanson’s name will still appear on the ballot next week, we believe it is not unreasonable to ask for voters to only be able to vote for candidates who actually wish to serve in the position.
Once Hokanson publicly announced she intended to take her full-time job offer and drop out of New Paltz’s town supervisor race, her name should no longer have been an option for voters to consider.
Hokanson urging voters to continue to vote for her as a “message” was misguided and we believe is a clear example of problems associated with our current electoral process. If she publicly declared she was no longer an option to consider, why did she continue telling people to vote for her?
While Susan Zimet is the clear front runner for the position of supervisor, the fact Hokanson’s name is still an choice for voters to consider means that whether Hokanson really wants the job or not, there is still a slim chance she could be re-elected to a fourth-term.
While Hokanson has served the Town of New Paltz strongly over her tenure as supervisor by spearheading important environmental conservation laws and developing projects such as the community center and LOOP bus service, once she announced she no longer would be actively running it was evident she no longer wanted the position.
How can we as voters allow for someone who has publicly withdrawn their name from a race be an option for that position – no matter how small the possibility?
Much of the focus on Election Day will be on races for higher level positions, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the micro-level politics that make a difference in everyday lives. To live and flourish as a community and democracy it is vital that voters are informed and not be confused as to who is even running for the positions they are casting their ballots for.
Change is needed in New York state’s election laws if we are to avoid potential confusion that may arise come time to vote next week. We only ask that voters head to the polls informed not only of what policies the candidates believe in – but whether or not they actually want the job.