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Politics? or Power? 2. Mail-in Ballots

April 28, 2022 am30 9:57 am

Some of the big issues in the current UFT election are not really about politics, and policy. Some of the issues are just attempts by the current leadership, Unity Caucus, to hold onto power.

How we vote

The American Arbitration Association runs the election. Ballots are mailed to each member, at home. Members check off the slate of their choice, or individual candidates of their choice, put the ballot in an envelope, put that envelope in another envelope, and drop it in the mail.

How bad is that? Not terrible. Many members manage to vote. But not good. Many, many more members don’t manage to vote. For every retired member who votes, two more do not vote. For every in-service member who votes, three more don’t vote.

Low turnout

Ballots get lost. People forget. The ballot is 12 pages long with over a thousand names – it can be overwhelming. But whatever the reason, turnout is low.

Turnout is so low, that if these numbers were elections for president of a country, we would wonder if democracy in that country would survive.

Ways to raise turnout

The most obvious step is to move to electronic voting. Electronic voting is easy, and fast, and reliable, and safe. It is secure. At yesterday’s Contractual Empowerment SBO Workshop Michael Mulgrew stated “We are using Election Buddy. Our job is to make it easier for you, the chapter leaders, to do your work.” Election Buddy is what the chapter leaders want, and Unity agrees, for SBO votes. But Unity makes lame excuses for insisting on mail in ballots.

Another approach would be to send ballots to schools, as we do during contract ratifications. When everyone is voting around us, we tend to vote at the same time. Turnout for voting on contracts is MUCH higher than voting for UFT elections.

Who benefits from low turnout?

Unity. Unity is not very popular, but counts on paid staff working the schools to deliver votes from a committed core. They count on winning a committed core, and then having most members not bother to vote. The higher the vote totals, the greater the risk to our current leaders.

We are using Election Buddy. Our job is to make it easier for you, the chapter leaders, to do your work.

Michael Mulgrew, April 27 2022, speaking about SBO votes. In UFT elections, apparently, his job is to make it hard to vote.

Think of it this way. Unity won a large victory in 2019. But they won about 39,000 votes, Solidarity 3600, MORE 2500, and New Action 1500. But 151,000 UFTers did not vote. Unity won with just 19% of the members.

After each election Unity says it will take steps to improve turnout, and then does nothing. Their position has nothing to do with good policy, or good election policy, or good connections with the members or chapter leaders. It has everything to do with clutching tightly to power by keeping the vote totals low.

How can you fight voter suppression?

The most obvious way – vote. Make the effort. Find your ballot. Fill it in. Put it in the secret envelope. Put that in the postage paid envelope. And mail it. If you let them suppress your vote, they win.

If United for Change wins this election, we will immediately change this. We will consider different options to make it easier to vote, and implement what will work. Let’s strike a blow against voter suppression!

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