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At the polls in New York

Election Day in New York City brings bundled ballot questions

At the polls in New York

A polling site inspector processes a voter using the new E-Poll Book tablet in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)

A New York moment: 

Election Day is a time when New York City feels like a small town. When I strolled into my precinct voting location midmorning on Tuesday—a school gym, where wall posters reminded students to think about how their actions affect others—I was the 55th person to cast a vote. 

The woman voting next to me was listening to an audiobook through her phone’s speaker as she marked her choices. Nearby, neighbors greeted each other. Usually New York City voter turnout is lower than the national average, but turnout was very high in the midterms last year. 

Low turnout is likely related to New York’s notoriously dysfunctional Board of Elections. In previous elections a poll worker would look through paper rolls for my name and have me sign a paper to show I had voted—a system that seemed primed for problems. This year the board sent voters a card with a barcode, and poll workers scanned voters’ cards on an iPad. The poll worker scanning me in said the board was testing out the new system to make sure everything went smoothly before the presidential election next year. 

New Yorkers on Tuesday were mostly voting on 19 ballot proposals, which had been bundled into five yes-or-no questions. One yes-or-no question, for example, included proposals for ranked choice voting, special elections, and redistricting. Some Floridians have recently challenged this practice of “bundling” various issues into one ballot question, so far to no avail. Florida officials said bundling different proposals into one question is a reasonable way to limit “ballot fatigue.” 

Worth your time:  

Director Martin Scorsese responded in a column to the backlash against his comments about Marvel movies not counting as cinema. Those comments reflected his own taste, he wrote, but he added that Marvel captures a crisis in cinema. 

“In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts,” he said. “But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk.” 

I reviewed Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman, which is out in select theaters now and hits Netflix at the end of the month. 

This week I learned: 

There is such a thing as a fogbow.

A court case you might not know about: 

Here’s some more (alleged) corruption from New York public officials: A judge is facing federal charges of helping an executive with his $10 million fraud at a company where she was a board member.

It seems like New York corruption cases often have some tragicomic detail. In this case, the judge had served on the state commission on judicial conduct. “According to its most recent annual report,” The New York Times reports, “the commission’s objective is ‘to enforce high standards of conduct for judges, who must be free to act independently, on the merits and in good faith, but also must be held accountable should they commit misconduct.’”

Culture I am consuming: 

The Quiet American by Graham Greene, published in 1955, which presaged American involvement in Vietnam. Greene is incisive about the human condition, but also about what would come to pass in Vietnam.

“He was young and ignorant and silly and he got involved,” says British journalist Fowler about his American friend Pyle, who is killed at the beginning in French Indochina. “He had no more of a notion than any of you what the whole affair’s about, and you gave him money and York Harding’s books on the East and said, ‘Go ahead. Win the East for Democracy.’ ... I’d liked to have seen him reading the Sunday supplements at home and following baseball.” 

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