14 March, 2009

Voting Irregularities in Peekskill, New York

I voted in the November 2008 presidential election in my voting district in the City of Peekskill, State of New York but I had a lot of difficulty in doing so. I have recently discovered that the vote that I cast that fateful night was not, in fact, counted at all.

How do I know this? Let me give you, gentle reader, the entire set of facts and see if you reach the same conclusion that I did:

On Tuesday, 2 November 2008, I walked into the voting area assigned to me and signed the log of voters, where my signature-on-file was verified against the signature I had just signed in the log book. After a wait of approximately two minutes (while someone else was in the voting booth), I went into the booth, and voted for the candidates whom I was certain about. I spent another minute or so making some last minute decisions and voted for a few more candidates. Then I went to do my write-in votes.

That's right, I actually am one of those people who s informed and educated about voting and knows that you can write-in the names of a candidate (anyone, really) you wish to vote for if you don't like any of the choices you're presented with.

So I began to process of writing-in my choice for these three different races, one of which was a very, very local race (city council). All three of my write-in choices were very unique. I lifted up the lever that you pull in order to write-in a candidate's name. Unfortunately, the paper that should have been there was not, and I was thus unable to write-in any candidates name (I would have been writing on the metal of the voting machine itself, instead of the paper 'ballot' (for lack of a better term; I honestly don't know what it's called other than the "write-in candidate paper in the voting booth")).

Being an informed voter, I called for an election inspector. One of the election inspectors came inside of the booth with me and determined that there was a physical malfunction in the machine that was preventing the paper 'ballots' to drop so that I could write-in a candidates name. She then attempted to vote for one of the candidates whose names were presented by flipping a lever (I should point out that she automatically started flipping switches along the Democrat row, instead of asking me who I wished to vote for...); however, since I opened up one of the slots to cast a write-in vote, all of the levers had been disabled and thus were no longer functioning.

As such, I had to exit the voting booth, where my vote was reset by the election inspector instead of it being submitted and counted, and submit my vote via an emergency ballot. Only, there weren't any emergency ballots on-hand. Thus, the election inspector came up with a solution: cast my vote on an absentee ballot and place it in the emergency ballot envelope (they had the envelopes but not the actual ballots). So I filled out the emergency ballot, where I was able to cast my vote for my write-in candidates by -- simply enough -- writing in their names in the space provided for the three races wherein I chose to vote in such a manner. I placed the absentee ballot into the emergency ballot envelope, sealed the envelope, and then handed it to the election inspector. I was personally assured that my vote would be counted and included with the general voting results as soon as the polls closed, at 9pm.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Westchester County Board of Elections web site to find the certified election results from the November 2008 election (I had visited the site previously in December 2008, and was advised that only the "certified" results listed the votes for any write-in candidates). Much to my surprise, none of the write-in candidates I had voted for were listed in the certified results; however, there were numerous other write-in candidates listed.

Thus, the only conclusion that I can reach from this is that the emergency ballot that I cast was not submitted and that none of the votes I cast that night were counted, period.

Needless to say, I am more than upset. I can understand that there was a mechanical failure with the voting machine; after all, the machines that the State of New York uses are more than 100 years old (and, for the most part, they do work). However, to not know or have in place the requisite measures when such a failure might occur is inexcusable. Further, to not have even one person's vote counted as a result of such failure is completely and totally unacceptable.

Maybe I should file a lawsuit against the City of Peekskill, NY for voting discrimination or something. I'll have to look into my options and report back.

In the meantime, I will stew in my anger and frustration, as I'm advised that there's "nothing that can be done" about this!