Where did all the voters go?

They call these ‘off-year’ elections…no congressional races, no governors are elected here in New York, no presidential elections…

But all over the place, turnout was down. Woodstock was no exception. Even with a race for town supervisor between two interesting candidates with good stories, the 961-823 victory for Jeremy Wilber contained a disappointingly low level of votes. The 1784 total is 16 percent fewer than the 2068 votes cast in 2009 when Jeff Moran defeated Liz Simonson.

In the town board race, Ken Panza’s victorious 1214 votes would have put him third and out of the running in 2005, behind Liz Simonson’s 1427 and Chris Collins’ 1363. Jay Wenk’s winning total of 948 this year would have even been behind both the losers in ’05, Terrie Rosenblun’s 1023 and Gordon Wemp’s 1006. The top vote getter this year in Woodstock, unopposed, was Mike Reynolds with 1588, not even spitting distance from his 2005 total of 2229.


Everybody says what a good, polite, informative, understandable, clear election this was. A model of democracy. I guess a good yawn is in order. It seems to be everything that we want and augurs for a potential harmony in conducting town affairs (we’ll see how long that lasts). So why is it that we need our blood to be boiling over, need some good old down decent rage to inspire more people to come to the polls? Do we have to sit on a nail before we can jump up and go to vote? Woodstock lists approximately 4200 registered voters. The 1784 who voted for supervisor represent about 42 percent of the potential ballots. That’s too low for the town level, where democracy works best in its purest form.


Probably the most curious race in the election cycle was registered in Hardenburg, the small municipality in southwestern Ulster County. There were no contested races in the town and 53 votes got John Fairbain elected to the town board.

But no one ran for supervisor. Now there’s an endorsement for a job. Not a Republican, not a Democrat, no independents, not a dog or a frog or a cartoon character. But lo and behold, there were 50 write in and absentee ballots that will be looked at this week, or next. We don’t see anyone holding his or her breath. ++