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New York Times

New York Democracy
By Rob Richie
July 14, 2002

To the Editor:

Joyce Purnick's review of possible reforms to make New York state government more democratic (Metro Matters column, July 8) reveals the sad condition of our electoral democracy. New York is far from alone in how much power is exerted by legislative leaders and how shielded incumbents are from competition; since 1996 more than 40 percent of all state legislative races have not been even nominally contested by both major parties.

However, like most states, New York this year is electing a governor who can't be shielded by gerrymandered districts. Reformers should press candidates to commit to restoring citizens' voices not just mouthing support for reforms that have no chance in the Legislature, but supporting a high-level commission with the kind of clout and independence that could make substantive reform possible.

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