News10NBC Investigates: Sixty-one percent of races on November election ballot have no opponent

News10NBC Investigates: Sixty-one percent of races on November election ballot have no opponent

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – For the first time in three decades, voters in Monroe County do not have a choice for district attorney in the fall election.

The election is two weeks from today and the Democratic party does not have a candidate.

But this issue goes beyond the D.A.’s race.

We found that in the majority of offices in Monroe County on the ballot this year, you as a voter have no options. 

Let’s look at town supervisor races:

  • 18 are up for election
  • 13 have no opponent

So if you live in Brighton, Mendon, Chili, Sweden and the nine other towns, you have no options when you go to vote.

“I think this is really highlighting how much of our party needs to be the grassroots aspect of it,” said Stephen DeVay, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee.
Of the 13 uncontested town supervisor races in Monroe County, 11 are because there is no Democratic candidate.

“It’s worth noting this is not something unique to the Democratic party,” DeVay said. “I know we’re talking about it now, but the Republican Party didn’t field somebody in every seat either.”
That’s true. There’s no Republican candidate for supervisor in Brighton or in Henrietta. There are 18 county legislature races in the city and county with either no Democrat or no Republican running. Not one Republican is running for a seat in the city. Not one Democrat is running for a seat in Greece.

Berkeley Brean, chief investigative reporter: “Is that fair to the voter?”

Joe Burgess, data management expert, University of Copenhagen: “You know, I don’t think it necessarily is. I think in a perfect world, voters would have more choices on the ballot.”

Joe Burgess is a self-described “election data nerd.” He researches this at the University of Copenhagen and co-wrote an opinion piece in Rochester’s City Newspaper two years ago titled, “Crisis in Urban Democracy.”

The crisis was low-voter turnout because of uncontested races.

When I asked him if anything should change, he mentioned what’s called the “Top 2” system used in California and Washington in which at least two candidates from the primary season make it to the November ballot “so that, for example, in some of these districts that are heavily Republican or heavily Democrat, there’s still some sort of general election race,” he said.

Brean: “And those two candidates could be in the same party.”

Burgess: “They could be in the same party.”

While New York City uses weighted ballots in some races, there is no Top 2 system in New York state.