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Low voter turnout an issue

Complaints of low voter turnout are nothing new in Howard Beach, but leaders there say they don’t feel the problem is unique to their neighborhood.
The only election affecting the area this Tuesday, November 6 was the contest for Supreme Court Justice of the 11th Judicial District. Denis J. Butler, Theodore Stamas, Kenneth C. Holder, Kerry John Katsorhis, Steven W. Paynter and Joseph F. Kasper competed for three seats.
Tentative results show Butler, Holder, and Paynter winning the city-wide election. Butler received 36,184 votes, while Holder got 31,802 votes and Paynter picked up 30,698.
Stamas, Katsorhis and Kasper all received between 10- and 11,000 votes.
District Attorney Richard A. Brown was also up for reelection but ran unopposed and had support from both political parties.
Brown’s unchallenged road to reelection may have played a role in southern Queens’ voting numbers, which were low again this year. The New York City Board of Elections was unable to offer specific statistics, but local leaders who spent Election Day visiting polling sites said it was quiet on all fronts - not just Howard Beach.
“We just got out of the Woodhaven polls, and we saw one person,” said District 23 Democratic Leader Frank Gulluscio. “In our last Republican primary, we had a single-digit turnout.”
Councilmember Joseph Addabbo, who accompanied Gulluscio to various polling sites, said there are many factors that affect turnout.
“For one thing, there’s the weather,” said Addabbo, who recalled, as a child, fearing that his father, long-time U.S. Congress member Joseph Addabbo, Sr., would lose the election if it rained on Election Day.
“There’s also the ticket and the issues,” said Addabbo. “People sometimes feel disconnected with the issues and the candidates.”
Betty Braton, Chair of Community Board 10, said voter turnout is “always a problem in off-year elections. People sometimes don’t realize the strength that voter turnout indicates to parties and elected officials. It’s the kind of election that people who don’t vote all the time ignore.”
Eric Ulrich, Republican Leader for the 23rd Assembly District, acknowledged that voter turnout is an important issue, but isn’t complaining about the September 18 election that landed him in office. He and running mate Jane Deacy received 1,419 of a total 2,144 votes cast.
The 23rd Assembly District, however, stretches through Broad Channel and into Rockaway. Howard Beach was not as strongly represented in the September 18 election.
Addabbo, however, promised light at the end of the tunnel.
“I made a guarantee - and I don’t make many guarantees,” he said. “I promise that 2008 will be much more exciting.”

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