Addabbo opposes runoff elections

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) has called for the abolition of run-off elections in New York state as a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars and has pledged to take action toward that end.

“As chairman of the [state] Senate Committee on Elections, I plan to research the process by which run-off elections can be eliminated entirely,” Addabbo said.

Amid abysmally low turnout for the Sept. 29 Democratic runoff, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) defeated Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn)for the Democratic comptroller line and Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn) prevailed over Mark Green for the public advocate nomination.

“The recentrunoff election in New York City cost the city upwards of $15 million,” Addabbo said. “This runoff cost taxpayers up to $72 per vote cast, although in both cases the winners of the run-off elections were the same as the September primary winners.”

Addabbo said he plans to research the means necessary to abolish runoffs, then either draft legislation or seek a change in the New York City Charter.

The run-off system was established after a mayoral primary election in 1969, in which Mario Procaccino, a conservative Democrat, won with only 32.8 percent of the vote in a five-candidate race, then lost in the general election toRepublican John Lindsay

Legislators then added a requirement that citywide candidates must receive at least 40 percent of the vote or the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff.

“This is an old and antiquated process that needs to be re-examined,” Addabbo said.

“Although it seemed impossible that voter turnout could drop below the record low turnout of the Sept. 15 primary of 11 percent, less than roughly 8 percent of registered voters went to the polls in the run-off election,” he said.

“Spending $15 million to hold an election that the voters do not wish to take part in is a waste of taxpayer dollars in a time of economic difficulty,” Addabbo said. “That money could have instead been spent more wisely, like on our seniors or schoolchil­dren.”

Addabbo, who served seven years on the City Council before moving to the state Senate, is the son of the late U.S. Rep. Joseph Addabbo Sr., who served in the House of Representatives from 1961 until his death in 1986. The federal office building in downtown Jamaica is named for him.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 6:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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