Friday, May 07, 2004

Thinking For Myself, Thank You reported this week that a special election for a seat on the Village Board of New Paltz, NY was won by Michael Zierler, a supporter of Mayor Jason West. Mayor West is facing criminal charges for performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples earlier this year.

Zierler's opponent in the election was Rick Remsnyder, who is supported by a Village Board member who was vocal in his opposition to Mayor West and his actions. The election was seen as a measure of support or opposition to the mayor.

What I find most interesting is Remsnyder's explanation after his loss. From the article:

Following the vote Remsnyder accused university students who voted in large numbers of skewing the results, saying they outnumbered "real" residents of the village.

"Students cannot think for themselves," he told the Freeman newspaper. "They do village elections as a political exercise or as a protest vote against what they see as the establishment."

Since when can students not think for themselves? Isn't that what they're supposed to be doing while at a university? As for voting being a political exercise - well, that's what voting is. Citizens exercising their right to have a voice in choosing their elected representatives. A protest vote against "the establishment?" Wouldn't the mayor be at the top of that establishment ladder? And even if the votes were in protest against anyone's politics - isn't that also what a vote is for? To express your support or lack of support? Wouldn't a protest vote be an expression of a person's thoughts on the matter at hand?

If he feels students are unable to think for themselves and cast votes responsibly, perhaps he should file legislation to disenfranchise all students. But which students does he have in mind? Am I, at age 39, incapable of voting because I am a student? If I were 18 but not a student, would I then meet Mr. Remsnyder's qualifications?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:23 PM