Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Voting Integrity Project Update

6 December 2009 report to The Peacemakers,

Wayne Stinson and Katherine Hawkins attended the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors meeting in November. Privilege of the floor had been requested via Summit Town Supervisor Harold Vroman, however, when the VIP presenters arrived they discovered no agenda notation to that effect. Fortunately, the BOS meeting included a continuation of the budget comment period so Wayne was able to address the board anyway.

We reminded the board of our earlier attempts to meet with the Election Commissioners (Nov. '08 - March '09) to propose establishment of a Citizen Advisory Board for Election Administration and the Commissioners' refusal to meet with us.

We reminded the board of our earlier research and analysis of voter registration and voter turnout statistics which revealed lower voter registration percentages in Schoharie County compared to five other demographically similar NY counties, and the disturbing fact that one in four eligible Schoharie County citizens is not registered to vote.

We notified the board of our most recent research effort, a survey of twelve county Boards of Elections (10 Nov. '09) which asks the ECs to report administration practices, department resources and accessibility data. We asked the Board of Supervisors to assure us that our Board of Elections would respond to the survey. We have received no such assurances and the Schoharie county Election Commissioners have so far not responded.

So far three counties have returned surveys. we will begin contacting those counties which have not yet returned the survey to remind them and to encourage participation. If personal contacts fail to gain cooperation the only remaining option would be Freedom of Information Law demands. No decision has been made as to this course.

Schoharie County BOE participated in the so-called pilot project use of the new voting equipment last month. The Sequoia-Dominion ImageCast machines were used in Schoharie Town election districts only. We have been told our BOE chose to do a 100% hand count of the paper ballots in those districts. If this is true they deserve credit for doing the right thing and something the state board didn't have the good sense or courage to require. We are not aware of any problems occurring with the new equipment in Schoharie Town pilot project.

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