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Language on casino ballot debated
ALBANY -- Will New York roll the dice on casinos? It'll be up to voters in a few weeks to decide. But some say the way they will be asked is unfair.
At issue is the language on the ballot we'll read when asked if we want casinos in New York, and how it got there. The Board of Elections says the Legislature and the Attorney General advise first how it should be written. But one man says what's written now is something else. It doesn't explain the drawbacks of gambling and not just whether or not casinos should be built.
If it's not what you say but how you say it, casinos might look pretty nice on paper. But Brooklyn attorney Eric Snyder, in State Supreme Court in Albany Friday, says New York needs to stop playing word games. He says the wording is biased, leaning in support of casinos. As it reads on the ballot now, voters will be asked to approve casinos "...promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes" with money collected.
"That's not neutral, that's not what was voted on, that's not their role," Snyder said. "Their role is to enforce election laws and not to create advocating language."
Snyder argues that the state Board of Elections didn't read aloud the wording at a meeting in July he says he watched on the web, and then it didn't post the text on its website until late August.
"The language is advocating," Snyder said. "It did take 25 days for them to place it on the website. Everyone else can draw their own conclusions."
The Board of Elections refutes any claims of secrecy.
"The delay if anything was more logisitical as far as staff recources being out on medical leave," says Tom Connolly, Deputy Director of Public Information for the BOE.
Snyder is said to have brought his concerns after an "unreasonable delay." Snyder said that delay was because he didn't know how the proposition was worded. The BOE, however, said if he really wanted to know, he could have filed to find out after the change.
"There was discussions between the commissioners and that was the language that was voted upon as a result of those conversations," Connolly said.
With election day nearing, the Board of Elections indicated a ruling in favor of Snyder's call to change the wording would require a huge undertaking.
"The ballots of many county boards are at the printer," said Paul Collins, representing the BOE. "The absentee ballots are being sent out as we speak."
If the judge rules in Snyder's favor, new ballots may have to be printed and distributed. Judge Platkin reminded the court that after he renders his decision, this case could be taken to the Appellate Division or even the Court of Appeals. He expects to make a decision by the middle of next week.