July 27, 2010

Questions, and Answers ?? from Scott Schrader, new Asst. CAO responsible for Elections

Are you sorry you asked yet?
 Subject: ward 4 checklist? polling place signs? banners?

Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 7:14 AM
To: Lori Olberg

Yesterday I was at the Miller Center, and the Ward 7 checklist was there. Where is the Ward 4 checklist? 

Please post on Front Porch Forum and Burlington Community Newspaper: 
·  the availability of checklists for review, and locations 
·  where/when/how people register to vote before the Aug 24 Primary, 
·  and please note that parking problems at Miller Center have been resolved (parking at athletic fields)? 

Who is in charge of putting the polling place signs out? How many days before the election do the polling place signs go out?

We need new (not faded and shabby) polling place signs for Ward 4, placed near North Ave so they are clearly visible from all directions. 

Ward 7 needs parking management, and availability of parking at athletic fields. Ward 4 parking is along Shore Rd. People need to know where to park.

The NPA is making a CELEBRATE DEMOCRACY -- VOTE AUG 24 banner, and we need to know  what the rules are about displaying it. Can you help with that? 

Lori referred the questions to Scott Schrader, who says the CAO has delegated responsibility for the Aug 24 Primary election to him. He responded as follows, (don't skip the final paragraph, it's a doozy)
Ms. Terhune:
Lori Olberg has forwarded you e-mail dated July 27, 2010 wherein you inquiry on various aspects of the upcoming Primary Election.  For the sake of expediency, I will be combining your inquiries in some instances.
1. As for your inquiry regarding voter registration and the location of the Ward 4 checklist and posting of checklists in general; The State of Vermont, pursuant to Section 2521 of the Vermont State Statutes, only requires that the City post a Warning and Notice of Election in at least two public places within each Ward.  This Warning and Notice contains, among other things,  information on voter registration and early or absentee voting, on how to obtain ballots, mark them, get help marking them and obtain new ballots in place of those accidentally spoiled and other pertinent information.  The City posts the Warning and Notice in three public places within each Ward, as well as at the Clerk/Treasurers Office at City Hall. 
The State of Vermont, pursuant to Section 2141 of the Vermont State Statutes, only requires that a checklist be posted in two public places in addition to being posted in the Clerk’s Office.  The City Charter has expanded on the State’s requirement  by requiring one copy of the checklist for each Ward to be posted.  Historically, and with this election as well, the City has placed each Ward checklists in two public places within each Ward.   The placement of these checklists [wards 4 and 7, checklists only] are as follows: Ward 4 St. Mark’s Youth Center – 1271 North Avenue, Gadue Dry Cleaning – 1127 North Avenue. Ward 7 Robert Miller Recreation Center – 130 Gosse Court, Bessery’s Quality Market – 1398 North Avenue 
2. As for your inquiry regarding polling place signs; Pursuant to Section 20 of Article 8 of the City Charter names the Chief Administrative Officer responsible for the elections as the presiding officer.  The Chief Administrative Officer has delegated the responsibilities of the Primary Election to me.  As such, I am responsible for the preparation and conduct of the election at each Ward.  I have researched various legal sources as to the requirement of the placement of signs used to identify polling places for an election and, so far, have not identified any rule as to when a sign needs to be placed or, quite frankly, whether a sign needs to be placed at all.  Historically the City has placed signs at each polling place on the day of the election.  Signs identifying each polling place in each Ward will be posted by a City employee for the Primary Election prior to the polls opening on Primary Election Day.  I will personally inspect the signs prior to the Primary Election to determine their condition and order replacements, if necessary.
3. As for your inquiry regarding parking; I am not sure if your statement regarding Miller Center parking problems is meant to be informative or a question.  Be that as it may, this Office has assigned a Clerk/Treasurer employee to each of the seven polling places on election day to serve as an Election Official.  They will be directed to communicate any and all issues that may arise to myself so that they can be addressed.  If parking issues arise, they will be addressed.  I have personally toured each of the polling place locations and will again prior to the Primary Election.  Currently, adequate parking appears to be available.  Again, this will be monitored and evaluated at each polling place as the day progresses. 
4. As for your inquiry regarding rules for displaying a banner; Certainly citizens, candidates, etc. have a first amendment right to stand outside a polling place holding a sign.  However, due to the fact that some of the polling places are being “borrowed” by the City for the conduct of the election, candidate signs and banners cannot be  “placed” upon the property.  Thus a sign or banner cannot be affixed to the building or stuck into the ground or otherwise “erected” to stand alone.  Banners or signs advertising the election, however, can be placed upon the property at a polling place under the following conditions:
a.     The exact language to be printed on the sign or banner must be approved by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the City.
b.    Permission from the property owner must be obtained, in writing, and submitted to the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.
c.     Any liability or property damage caused by the placement of a sign or banner with be assumed by either the party placing the sign or banner or the property owner. 
d.      If the property where a polling place is located is City property, permission to place a sign or banner must be obtained by the resident Department and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer and, if permission is granted, shall be placed upon direction of the resident Department. 
I want to thank you for your interest in the upcoming election.  However, I will offer some advice on the nature of e-mail and proper etiquette.  E-mail, even if etiquette is properly and diligently followed,  is probably the most troublesome form of communication in that the reader cannot determine the attitudes or emotion of the writer due to the lack of voice inflection, etc.  This has a tendency to cause the reader to misconstrue the intent and attitude of the writer.  For example; your e-mail could give one the impression that the questions you ask and issues you raise are directives to be taken care of by the City.  Being new to Burlington and not having the pleasure of meeting you, I can’t imagine that that is (was) your intent.  I am certain that you are offering suggestions to this office of things that could make it easier for the voters of the City to exercise their democratic right.  Your intended intent and attitude could be lost or be considered rude if you don’t take the time to use proper etiquette in form and politeness, depending on the reader.   I offer this in a most sincere, constructive way to avoid any miscommunication or misunderstanding.  Again, thank you very much for your interest and suggestions.   Feel free to contact us with any observations and suggestions you may have in the future. [Note: Highlight is mine. I am floored by Schrader's response! Follow-up to get questions answered received no reply. Lea]
Scott Schrader
Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
City of Burlington
149 Church Street
Burlington, VT  05401
Phone (802) 865-7140