Though most Binghamton University students aren’t eligible to vote for the next Binghamton mayor, all of New York’s voters have some important decisions on today’s ballot — including the possibility of allowing in-state gambling.
A proposal to amend the New York Constitution to authorize casino gambling has received support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who believes it will bring many jobs to upstate regions of New York, increase funding for schools and allow local governments to lower property taxes. However, detractors claim that more casinos will have a negative effect on the state.
The proposal is one of six New York state constitutional amendments proposed this year. If any of the initiatives receive more than 50 percent of votes from New York state citizens, they will be written into the constitution on Jan. 1, 2014.
Other amendments include a proposal to expand the age until which judges can sit on the bench to 80 years old, a plan to give disabled veterans more credit on civil service exams, changes to the way counties count debt cost of building sewage facilities, a resolution to a land claim dispute between state and private parties and a plan to allow the state to exchange preserved land with a private company that wants to harvest minerals.
There are a total of 2,168 individuals registered to vote on campus this year. According to the Broome County board of elections, 871 of these people are registered Democrats and 283 are Republicans. There are 1,010 students registered through New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), according to Matthew Lemke, NYPIRG’s project coordinator and Southern Tier organizer.
On-campus students who registered to vote with their school address will have their votes counted for the town of Vestal, and therefore will not have a vote in the Binghamton mayoral contest between Republican Rich David and Democrat Teri Rennia, which is the only contested race on the ballot for the city of Binghamton. The other races — for county clerk and family court judge — are countywide elections in which incumbents are the only candidates listed on the ballot.
According to a poll conducted last year by professor Jonathan Krasno and his public opinion class, 48 percent of Binghamton students claim to be registered at their parents’ address as opposed to 27 percent who claim they are registered in Broome County.
“I’m registered at home, personally I don’t really care about local politics,” said Adam Taylor, a sophomore majoring in history. “Broome County judges don’t really matter to me at all, but local politics back home sure do.”
Other students disagree, arguing that Broome County politics are important to students.
“I registered while on campus,” said Brian Hopkins, a freshman majoring in business administration. “I am going to be up here most of the time anyway. The people we elect definitely matter much more to me than people I will never see back home.”
Many students failed to see a reason to register to vote in this year’s election.
“There isn’t really anything important on this year’s ballot, I’ll just register next year,” said Pedro Oliveira, an undeclared freshman.
Students registered in Vestal will see mainly uncontested races filling up their ballots. The only contested race is the election for superintendent of highways, in which Democrat Kenneth J. Fortler and Republican Brock M. Leonard square off.