How do people most influenced by expanded gambling facilities in downtown Schenectady feel about it? In November of 2013, the Board of Elections asked a question about allowing new casinos upstate that NYPIRG was ‘deeply troubled’ by because of its ‘trespass into advocacy’. How much of a role did the misleading question alter the vote? It is unclear, but the constitutional amendment passed. Regions of the State that would not be affected by new casinos voted overwhelmingly for it, while areas that were slated to receive casinos voted against it or marginally for more casinos. Now, the people of Schenectady, and Albany, are in a position of potentially having a casino sited in their community when they clearly voted against it.
Using voting data from all 120 election districts and the 6 municipalities in Schenectady County we can discern the sentiment of the people. The town of Niskayuna, with 15,290 voters, had a turnout of 39% in November. Every single one of their 20 election districts voted against the casino. The no vote overwhelmed the pro-gamblers by 25.7%; this was the largest margin of decisiveness in the County. The under vote –the people who did not turn over their ballot, read the 6 lengthy proposals and then register an opinion- was the lowest in Niskayuna at 3.6%.
The good people in the town of Princetown had the highest turnout in all of Schenectady County at 56.7%. Both of their election districts voted against a new casino in the Capital District, and the margin of decisiveness was 14.1%, while the under vote was 6.8%.
47% of Duanesburg’s 4,328 voters came out to vote in November. All 5 of their election districts voted against the casino. However, in one of their election districts the percentage of voters not registering an opinion for the proposal, the under vote, was higher than the margin against the casino. This leaves the results in question. Can we say that the voters in the 4th election district were truly opposed to the casino when the no votes won by 3.7% and the under vote was 8.9%? In order not to over read the results, where the margin of decisiveness is less than the under vote, I can only conclude that the results are suggestive and not conclusive. Given this framework, 4/5ths of the election districts in Duanesburg were conclusive, but on the whole 54.4% of the people voted against the casinos. This was a margin of decisiveness of 13.3% while the under vote was only 4.5% of the electorate.
41% of Glenville’s 20,009 voters turned out in November. These people live closer to the proposed casino in downtown Schenectady, than do many people in the City of Schenectady, and they voted strongly against having a new casino built for their children. The people opposed to new casinos garnered 55.3% of the vote while the pro-gamblers received 15.7% less of the vote. Even more decisively, 25 of the 27 or 92.6% election districts voted against the casino.
The decisiveness of the electorate in the town of Rotterdam is not as clear as the previous 4 municipalities reviewed so far. 17 of their 24 election districts voted for the casino, but only 14 of the election districts conclusive decisions. In aggregate, people who supported increased gambling won by 6.7%, but the undecided or the under vote was 7.6%. People who voted at the Rotterdam Senior Center and the Town Hall were the strongest supporters of expanded gambling, while the other neighborhoods had mixed results; some voted against while others were not conclusive. On the whole, the only conclusion we can draw is that the vote in Rotterdam is suggestive of moderate support for a new casino.
The City of Schenectady has the most muddled results of all the municipalities in the County. Only 7,723 voters or 25.8% of the electorate turned out to vote; this alone adds a high degree of uncertainty in the results. This dismal turnout ranged by election district from 12.2% to 38%, but on the whole, it was the lowest turnout in the County. The under vote, which researchers have ascribed to the lack of quality education, method of voting and the wording of referenda questions, was highest in the City. Election district under votes ranged from 3.7% to 48.3%, and accordingly the certainty of a decisive vote in an election district could only be determined in 22/42 districts. As a City, people who supported a new casinos upstate won by 2.3%, but the under vote was 10.3%.
People living around Schenectady High School and in the Stockade were conclusively against more casinos upstate, while people in Mount Pleasant and Belleview supported new casinos. Other neighborhoods were only suggestively for or against because not all of the election districts voted the same, while in some the under vote was larger than the margin of decisiveness.
For the City on the whole, no clear conclusions can be made about the opinion of the people. Any statements with certainty about the will of the people in the City about the expansion of gambling would be a distortion of the expressed statements of the people.
What we can say with certainty is that the majority of the people that would be most impacted by a new casino in downtown Schenectady expressed clear opposition to more gambling for their families and communities. People opposed to more gambling were 50.6% of the vote in the county, while the people supporting more gambling opportunities for their children lost by a margin of 7.9%. The under vote was 6.6%, so the countywide decision against additional casinos was conclusive. Additionally, 72 of the 120 election districts or 60% voted against more gambling for their families and communities. The people have spoken, and the answer is no casino.
The government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this Earth, but perhaps in Schenectady. It is up to the City Council.
These data are compiled and analyzed with Schenectady County Board of Elections results that are available on their website, and in the case of election district poll locations and the number of registered voters, available upon request from their accommodating staff.
schenectady county casino vote.xlsx