The phrase “vote early and vote often” reflected some of the shady Election Day antics seen in Chicago in the early 1900s.
This year, there’s a new phrase – “vote twice” – in the 29th congressional race that is legal and possibly a source of confusion come Election Day.
There are indeed two races listed on the ballot for the 29th District, that includes Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler and five others.
The names in both are the same: Republican Tom Reed and Democrat Matt Zeller.
But the terms of service are different. The first is a full, two-year term beginning on Jan. 1 and the second is the remaining two months of the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep Eric Massa.
Massa, D-Corning, resigned in March amid rumors of ethics violations. Almost immediately the issue of holding a special election to fill the vacancy blossomed.
Republicans had their candidate – Tom Reed – and demanded that Gov. David Paterson schedule a special election as soon as possible
Democrats, on the other hand, had not only just lost their candidate, but they lost him in a year in which the Democratic brand had been severely damaged both locally and nationally.
They were content to keep the seat empty and let the term expire.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans expected Paterson, himself a lame duck, to schedule a special election for Nov. 2, the same day as the general election.
Paterson’s stated reasons for holding the two elections on the same day were to save the state money and to make sure overseas servicemen had the opportunity to vote.
Veronica Olin, Republican commissioner for the Steuben County Board of Elections, said there will be two vertical rows on Tuesday’s ballot for the 29th Congressional District.
“You can view the ballots on our Web site,” Olin said. “If people go to the Steuben County Board of Election Web site all of the ballots are shown there.”
The candidates themselves are reminding voters to vote twice.
“At every debate Matt and I agree its important to get the message out,” Reed said. “I know a lot of our campaign literature we sent out, e-mails and mailers, also stress the importance. We’re trying in every aspect of the campaign to make sure people understand the situation.”