October 16, 2012

City Hall Careless with Ballots

October 3, 2012

 Some friends of mine and myself had reason to travel to Albany, NY yesterday. They had gone to City Hall the day before to vote early, and while driving down I-87 it came up in conversation. This was the account that they imparted to me of their experience... 
 When they arrived at the city clerks office there was a gentleman talking, from the public side, to one of the desk clerks, so they went to the other of the two windows, which was also open and available. They got checked off, received their ballots, and took them over to the counter to fill out. As they were marking the ballots, one of them noticed that the gentleman that had been talking to the desk clerk had made his way over to them and was trying to see who they were voting for. My friend noticed him peering at her ballot and curled it over to deny him the ability to intrude further. He realized that he had been discovered, and quickly diverted his eyes to the voting information and blank ballots posted on the wall, in a vain attempt to make her think that the invasion of her right to a secret ballot was not his actual intent. He then went back to the same desk clerk that he had been talking to previously and continued with that discussion. When my friends had finished filling out their ballots they noticed that he had been watching them from the clerks counter, and told them (somewhat insistently) that they should submit them with the clerk that he had been talking with, even though the window of the clerk that they had received them from was free. When they complied with his suggestion (demand?), the clerk at that window took their ballots, and handed them off to someone that was just around the corner but not visible from their position; all they could see was a hand taking them. That was the last they saw of their ballots. 
 Their concern was that this intrusive gentleman was attempting to filter ballots submitted, and possibly had some influence over the particular clerk that he had insisted that they submit their ballots to. They never saw their ballots put into a locked ballot box. Were their ballots submitted to a proper voting receptacle?, or a paper shredder and then a trash receptacle based upon his personal bias!
 I asked them if they could describe him to me, and although I don't know every person working at City Hall, I felt that if I could identify the person I may be able to explain his position in the administration and calm their concerns as to whether he belonged there or not. They described him as 5'8" to 5'10", 35 to 40ish,average build, with dark wavy curls, and wearing glasses. This didn't strike a chord with me; does it bring anyone to your mind? Would there be an Inspector of Elections posted at the City Clerks office during the entirety of the available early voting period?
 It seems to me that Absentee and Early Votes should immediately be placed in a LOCKED voting box which is not accessible, but is always observable by the public, and to which the only key should be held by the person who will ultimately be responsible for verifying the outcome of the elections!
Greg Roy  (Ward 4)