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Election Day 2012 Recap: The Good, The Bad..... The Illegal?

A recap of the 2012 elections and possible voter disenfranchisement in Rockland County.

 

Recap

Election day was a great day for our nation, state, and county. We voted for our economy, our values and for our safety.  

National:

Aside, from the important reelection of President Obama; Maine, Washington State and Maryland passed marriage equality by popular vote and the people of Minnesota rejected a ballot initiative that would prevent marriage equality. 

Massachusetts sent Elizabeth Warren to the Senate and the Wisconsin electorate spoke and denounced “legitimate rape” candidate Akin. 

In NY: 

We won back the NYS State Senate. 

We sent tea party darling Nan Hayworth packing and replaced her with Congressman Elect Sean Patrick Maloney. 

And in Rockland:

 The Young Democrats worked hard to ensure that we, to borrow the Rockland Democratic Party’s tagline, “Paint Rockland County Blue One Race at a Time”  

The Young Democrats, managed campaigns, knocked on well over 1,000 doors, made over 3,000 phone calls, drove people to the polls and served as poll watchers in the county. We are already gearing up for 2013 and will stay FIRED UP! 

But let's stay on this year: 

  • We decisively elected Congresswoman Lowey! 
  • We sent back NYS Senator Carlucci and NYS Assemblypeople Ellen Jaffee and Ken Zebrowksi. 
  • We are especially excited to have elected James Skoufis, a fellow Young Democrat to the NYS Assembly where he will represent parts of Orange County and Stony Point.

Tragically, not all was great yesterday. Below, I provide some critical concerns that I feel should be addressed by our leadership in Rockland County. 

People of Color Turned Away: 

There is a major problem in Rockland County when it comes to how we engage in our elections. I have noticed this for the past 2 years. From my perspective, there is a level of racism and anti-young people sentiment throughout the Rockland Board of Elections. 

I have been trained as a poll watcher by the New York Democratic Lawyers Counsel, as well as having gone through the training at the Rockland Board of Elections. Last year, I worked as an election inspector in the primary election, and the year prior, I served as a poll watcher. I’m telling you this because I know the process and know how the process should be. 

To set the stage, its about 10 a.m. on election day and I head over to my polling place to vote. There is a short line, three people in-front of me. Waiting to the side of line is a Latino couple. When I get to the front of line, I curiously ask the couple if they are on line and if they are having trouble voting.

The husband responds to me that he has voted but they are not allowing his wife. I asked his wife if she is registered to vote. Her husband had to help translate as English wasn’t her first language. She attested that she was registered to vote. I proceeded to tell the election inspector that they should provide her with an affidavit ballot because she is stating that she is a registered voter. I know in cases like this the Board of Elections will verify her status when they receive her affidavit ballot. 

The election worker, then, asked me who I was. I stated my name and that I am member of the Rockland Democratic Committee. He then informed that he called the Board of Elections and they told him she is not allowed to vote. He then told her that she could A) bring back identification proving she can vote or B) go to New City and get an order from a judge to vote.

I told the election inspector that neither of these options where appropriate. I placed a phone call to Rockland Democratic Chairwoman Kristen Stavisky asking her to contact the Board of Elections. At this point, the election inspectors informed me that I would need to leave area because they are not allowed to speak with me. 

After about 30 minutes waiting, phone calls, the intervention of our Democratic Chairwoman, the woman was able to vote. She was in fact registered. And I learned that was her first time voting as a US Citizen.

She was almost in tears and so thankful that she was able to vote. I too was happy that was able to vote. She is doing her civic duty as a citizen, which many of us who have lived here our entire lives do not.

What troubled me is that if I didn’t go to vote at that  time that woman would have likely not voted. This is shameful. And my question then became--- why we needed such a large intervention for her to be able to vote---- which is her legal right. 

Because this is my community, various voters who knew me asked what was going on. Republican families and Democrats. All of us were in shock. 

So that was the start of my election day. And this was the first experience a new citizen had with our voting process. This is unacceptable. Changes must be made. 

After I left voting, I called our Democratic Chair (and thanked her again for her leadership and help) and asked for poll watcher certificates so I can go to poll sites and see if other voters are being unfairly turned away. I witnessed a voter who was once registered purged from the roll, some voters turned away even when they claimed they were registered, and numerous people asked to show ID (which we can not ask for by law in NY State). 

Its also not surprising that months ago NY Attorney General Eric Scheinerman sent a letter to the Rockland County Board of elections (one of 10 counties in which he wrote to) stating that they are not providing enough access for Spanish speakers. After the letter, it was reported that the Rockland Board of Elections would comply with the Voters Right Act, but I fear the injustice I witnessed calls that into question. 

Young People Disenfranchised? 

And at one polling location in Rockland students were being unfairly targeted. Quoting a  Nov. 7 article published by lohud (http://www.lohud.com/article/20121107/NEWS02/311070095/Poll-problems-Yorktown-faced-power-outage-ballot-mixup-Harrison-site-closed): 

"Another source of confusion was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order allowing voters forced from their homes by Sandy to vote by affidavit ballot at any poll site in the state.

Nyack resident Nisa Rauschenberg said she saw a group of Nyack College students argue with a poll inspector when they tried to ask for an affidavit ballot at the Hilltop administration building. The students said they were unable to get home to Brooklyn and Queens because of the storm. Some were granted affidavit ballots, and others were not.

Rockland Election Commissioner Ann Marie Kelly said the governor’s order applies to people “displaced by the storm — not students who decided at the last minute to vote.”

As the Co-President of the Rockland County Young Democrats, I find Ann Marie Kelly’s statement to be both insensitive to those affected by Sandy and to imply that young people are lazy and irresponsible. 

Action: 

I respectively call for a complete and comprehensive review of Board of Election practices/policies that are intentionally or unintentionally disenfranchising voters.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ricky Sanchez November 11, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I want to thank Joe Coe and everyone here for speaking out on an issue that been going on for years and one that I have fought through the years including filing a complaint with the Justice Department in the past to step in and help address this issue on making sure that no one gets turn away and not allow to vote. I personally don't care what race you are. One can say its Latino being turn away or blacks being turn away or the white community and that may be case to if the large community is made up of a particular race within that district. But, the real issue here is that NO ONE should be turn away at the polls. Let's everyone work together and gather documentation that can be review with actual example of these individuals that were disenfranchise and possible a violation of the federal voting act and address the problem regardless of what race one is. Joe Coe has motivated me after all these years once again to take a look at this issue and see what I can do to help bring about change. Both parties Democrats and Republicans, along with all elected officials should also get involved and help to bring this change. These are American citizens being turn away at the polls it should not be happening or allowed.
ted stephens November 12, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Agree RIcky. I did however have picture license in hand AND I might add my social security card and birth certificate...kinda took it to the extreme I guess since I thought this one (eletion) was of particular importantance. .All good on my end though, turn the page ...next election hopefully all good also.
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I am happy Joe Coe brought out this issue because it needs to be discussed. However, from what I have personally witnessed and from other reports I have seen from people across the country, the problem is a systemic, nationwide problem and not limited to Rockland County. Voters of all races, creeds and colors have been reported as not being registered when they were; people reported going to vote and the register showing they already voted. It has been reported nationwide, not just in Rockland County. Therefore, there is no issue that there is a problem, but I do not believe the problem boils down to racism.
Greg November 12, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Voter fraud likely a bigger problem than suppression. As a citizen, I am being disenfranchised while the issue is thrown under the bus.
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
The real discrimination is against American citizens, when non-citizens do not have to show proof of citizenship in order to register.
Watchdog November 12, 2012 at 01:54 PM
As long as we continue to reject the idea of truly effective voter ID and the accurate scrubbing and counting of absentee and military ballots, there can be little confidence that we have elected the right people to office in a legitimate way.
Watchdog November 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
It does seem unreal that all the posts in articles written by J Coe are censored " pending approval" while posts on article written by people like Ed Day and Michael Hull are not. So much for fairness and democracy.
Howard Deixler November 12, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Dear Life Long Resident, You seem to have some difficulty with the language yourself. Your post should read, "Learning English should be a priority for immigrants" or possibly, "Learn English! That should be a priority for immigrants."
Howard Deixler November 12, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Dear Lynn Teger, The information gathered by the form allows the State to determine the citizenship of the person registering.
Howard Deixler November 12, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Dear Lynn Teger, "Mr. Coe: Here is an article of something that transpired on Election Day. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this one: " I read the article and it seemed heavy on the accusations but a little light on proof. Not a single photo to back it up just because someone said "no photos"? Do you believe that a reporter or photographer would be deterred by that? I don't know - maybe there's something there - but what?
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 02:58 PM
@Howard Deixler: I looked at the voter registration form which I outlined in a prior post. I am open to hearing where the registrant is required to show proof of citizenship, since I did not see it anywhere on the form. I am happy to be corrected. Please explain to me where proof of citizenship is required.
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 03:13 PM
@Howard@ Here is some video for your consideration, both from 2008 and 2012. 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8p2QRBNO8g 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4MTQVMatW0
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Please see the attached Election Law which I took off of the NYS Board of Elections website. If you look at "Voter Registration Enrollment, page Section 500-5, page 154, Section i. it states that on the registration form regarding citizenship there is: "a space for an applicant to indicate whether he is a citizen of the United States". I cannot find anything in this document that requires proof of citizenship. If you can, please point it out. If you read this document, it may clear up some of the other issues. http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/law/2012NYElectionLaw.pdf
Howard Deixler November 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Dear Lynn Teger, That does look pretty bad to me. Did someone call the Police? Were those guys actually doing something illegal?
Watchdog November 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Leave it to someone from Nyack to denigrate senior citizens most of whom built these local Towns over many years with their tax dollars, fought or served in the military but please do not say anything about those who snuck into the country illegally and did ZERO to help build our schools or infrastructure. You are then a racist. Amazing.
Watchdog November 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Lynn, don't bother with this guy....he seems to be having some fun about a serious matter he does not want to discuss. A little J Guilt coupled with corny, only they understand, to the extreme.
Lynn Teger November 12, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Since I did not witness the incident myself, I can only provide you with a report I found written in the Washington Times. Here it is for your consideration: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/6/problems-black-panthers-surface-pa-polling-places/
Greg November 12, 2012 at 06:58 PM
By the way, Barack Obama did not win any state that required photo ID. Any thoughts?
Greg November 12, 2012 at 07:02 PM
My bad. Obama won one state that required photo ID.
Watchdog November 12, 2012 at 07:21 PM
A coupe of black panthers outside the voting place with clubs in military fatigues and wise a Howard drexler asks if they were doing anything wrong? Amazing.
jeff meyer November 12, 2012 at 10:07 PM
"Truly effective voter ID"??? What does that mean? Perhaps it is a code phrase for sour grapes. Your candidate was defeated emphatically in both the electoral college and the popular voter. The only thing that is not legitimate is your logic. BTW, what is your name?? LOL. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
Howard Deixler November 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Dear Watchdog, I did not ask if they were doing anything wrong. I asked if they were doing anything illegal. If they were doing something wrong you might call a clergyman or their parents. If they were doing something illegal you might call a cop.
Howard Deixler November 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Dear Lynn Teger, I understand that proof of citizenship is not required to apply. My point is that the State may investigate whether or not the applicant is truly a citizen if the State has reason to doubt his or her status. Does proof of citizenship consist of a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization? Should copies of these documents be attached to each application? Can't these documents be forged or altered? Wouldn't the State have to verify each and every one of these applications? Does that seem practical or necessary to you? I want to assure you (and your "Watchdog") that I am not being flippant or corny or acting out of J Guilt (whatever that is) but am truly interested in what you have to say.
Greg November 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Jeff, Hanging chads were all the rage not too long ago, when leftists thought THEIR guy was losing, but it's so different now when responsible citizens expect voter/photo ID to reduce fraud and ensure the fairness of election. Because YOUR guy is now winning, reasonable voter ID expectations are considered illegitimate. Hypocritical much? By the way, you need a photo ID just to order a drink or buy beer at the grocery store. I don't think it's very much to ask responsible people to have ID to vote.
jeff meyer November 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Greg, I don't necessarily disagree with you. However, if certain State governments are going to insist on voter ID then said governments should facilitate such an endeavor. I was told that South Carolina facilitates this registration process through the mail at next to no cost. Very easy. As opposed to Pennsylvania that imposes obstructive hurdles to prevent citizens from voting. Furthermore, let's not impose these changes right before a Presidential election. Now would be the perfect time to implement such laws. Let's encourage inclusion in our voting process as opposed to disenfranchisement. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
Lynn Teger November 13, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Mr. Deixler: The law in this country is that you have to be a citizen to vote. The fact that someone can forge a document or that a law may not be convenient, is not a justifiable excuse for not following the law. The next time a police officer pulls you over, try those excuses and see if he goes for it.
Howard Deixler November 14, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Dear Lynn Teger, Well, how would you structure the process without adding millions of dollars? The principle may be important but, really, there just aren't enough cases of voter fraud (I'm not talking about registration fraud which can be uncovered during the registration process) to justify the expense. It would be killing a flea with a shotgun. What does a policeman stopping me for a traffic violation have to do with anything that we are discussing? I think you should go back to being demanding and nit-picky and just let "Watchdog" shovel the snide remarks.
Lynn Teger November 14, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Mr. Deixler: There is a very easy way for the board of elections to check immigration status if the law permitted it. It could be done the same way that employers must do it when they hire someone, if the law permitted it. See the site below. This would be simple, easy and cost very little. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=75bce2e261405110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD&vgnextchannel=75bce2e261405110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD Although you are not aware of it, there have been millions of cases of voter fraud reported all over the country. I suggest you do some research on the matter. Although it is apparent that Watchdog and I hold similar views on the subject, I am very capable of speaking for myself and I am responsible and accountable for only the remarks that I have posted.
Lynn Teger November 14, 2012 at 08:46 AM
@Mr. Deixler: However, after noting the tone of several of your remarks to me, I am beginning to wonder if maybe watchdog's observations about your intentions may have been correct.
Howard Deixler November 14, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Dear Lynn Teger, This is ridiculous. I just don't share your outrage on this matter. The Republic has survived and democracy has thrived for over 200 years. As I said the problem you see is the size of a flea and, speaking of fleas, the old saying still holds, "Lie dow with (Watch)dog, get up with fleas. My work is done here. Adieu.

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