March 29, 2007

Village election closes; results same

The print edition of this morning's Journal reports that final results are in for the Village of Dryden Trustees' race:

CandidateDemocratRepublicanBetter DrydenTotal
Randy Sterling183183
Robert Witty171171
Lisa Valentinelli13137168
Elizabeth Gutchess12335158

There's also a letter to the editor from Kate Howells of Dryden complaining about Democrats 'trampling' the rights of military voters.

I'm sure that Howells and everyone else will be glad to know that those ballots have been counted, and are now part of the final tally. There were three ballots which were open to challenge - a ballot from a Democrat carrying an election day postmark, and two military ballots from Republicans where the senders apparently hadn't seen the bold "MUST CHECK ONE" on the back requesting them to identify their military status.

The Republicans asked for the rejection of the ballot with the election day postmark, as they're supposed to be postmarked the day before. It might well have been put into a mailbox the day before - we just have no way of knowing. Given that the session started with a key Republican complaining about the post office's performance, this was kind of ironic. Still, it's a technicality, but that ballot wasn't likely to get opened.

The military ballots were the only other ballots with a visible defect, and we asked that they be put aside for three days. Three days would let us decide if we wanted to challenge them in court - we didn't - consider our options, and see if any other ballots arrived. (There was, for example, a military ballot sent to a Democrat that still could have come back.)

I asked Democratic Election Commissioner Steve DeWitt to open the ballots that had been put aside, and apparently he supported their inclusion in the final count. (I don't get to make these decisions personally, though I do get to provide input.)

In general, I'd like to see every ballot counted. If the checkboxes on the back reflect information that's already collected in the form requesting the ballots, I'd be happy to see those checkboxes removed. The absentee ballot counting process is designed to minimize voter fraud, a subject Republicans raise constantly, but unfortunately, yes, it does raise barriers to all kinds of ballots.

Personally, I lean toward including as many ballots as possible, and I'd support removing the one odd extra potential obstacle New York State has apparently placed in the way of military ballots, the checkboxes. I look forward to future races when Republicans find themselves facing the same questions about whether to challenge or include military ballots from Democrats, and we can find out how strongly they support these principles when their victories are at risk.

(In good news, there was one affidavit ballot. These have a large number of fields to fill out, and as a result are incredibly easy to challenge. The voter who filed one got everything right, and the ballot was accepted.)

Posted by simon at March 29, 2007 12:04 PM in ,
Note on photos


Chris Lyons said:

The affadavit was mine, since the state hadn't forwarded my voter registration... (After moving into the village I filed for my replacement drivers licence and took the state up on their offer to re-register me. I guess they forgot.)

The Village poll worker was a little unsure about the completion of the complicated affadavit and I somewhat overruled her... I'm glad it worked out. Too bad there weren't just a few more like me.