Vogel: Here's a worthy task for the public advocate
Tuesday is the Democratic runoff for public advocate. Can you feel the excitement? Who will win? Who is running?
By a show of hands, how many of you plan to vote? Anyone? Bueller?
Only 20 percent of enrolled Democrats and Republicans bothered to vote in the mayoral primaries last month. Today's yawn of an election figures to attract a tiny fraction of that already small number.
They can probably all go in the same cab.
If you are one of those who believe it's your civic duty to vote in any election no matter how trivial, good for you. You will pull the lever for either Daniel Squadron or Letitita James. That is, if you can get the lever to move.
My friend Lou tried to pull the lever at his polling place in Staten Island to vote in the mayoral primaries and found it was hopelessly stuck.
"Use some elbow grease," sneered the poll worker, apparently annoyed that Lou had interrupted her nap.
I wonder how many votes were lost because of those shoddy, ancient machines and inept poll workers?
And now this runoff for public advocate. Since there are no Republicans campaigning for the post, today's winner will almost certainly take the office. What will that mean for the city? Most New Yorkers don't even know what the public advocate does.
The name itself has become all but meaningless. Like the traditional New York egg cream, which has neither egg nor cream, the so-called public advocate rarely advocates for the public. Previous officeholders have instead spent most of their time advocating for their political futures. Bill de Blasio established the name recognition in this post that allowed him to run for mayor, as did Mark Green before him.
But when James or Squadron assumes the office, she or he can change that perception. For starters, the winner should advocate that the Board of Elections have electronic machines up and running in each and every polling place in this city in all future elections, and that trained, competent poll workers are on hand.
Unless that happens, I think our next public advocate should be our last.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.