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Words From Wiser: Inspecting Our Elections

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From Chuck Wiser, 10/28/21

Let me start out by saying that I am not affiliated, nor aligned, with either, or any, political party and I rankle to be called a Conservative or Liberal. If I had to label myself it would be as a member of the “Vote for The Character, Integrity and Qualifications of the Person Party”.

My first awareness of political parties was during the 1952 Presidential election when President Eisenhower was elected. My Mother was a staunch Republican. When I came of voting age, already having started my service in the US Navy, I registered as a Republican, because that is what my Mother was. I was old enough to be affected by politics when Watergate was going on, and recall defending then President Nixon, thinking he was “getting railroaded.” Soon thereafter, I was convinced that President John Kennedy was doing a decent job, despite rumors of his infidelity already surfacing. I was as shocked by his assassination as was the rest of the world.

Until just a few short years ago I was rather blase’ about politics and was not vocally active. When race, gender, and moral character all started playing a role in politics, and, as obvious “hatred” developed between opponents and supporters, I became vocal and showing a presence and preference, and started declaring my opinion via Social Media.

When election integrity became a major political focus, I decided to see “what I could learn about it” so I could make educated decisions, and yes, even to be vocal about my views on it. I decided that it was time to step up, be active, and serve a civic duty and decided to attend “Election Inspection” training and become a “volunteer,” albeit compensated at a nominal level.

The Allegany County Board of Elections was offering the training program at the Belmont Legion in May, so I enrolled. I attended the training session conducted by the Democratic and Republican Assistant Deputy Commissioners Barbara Broughton and Marcy Crawford respectively. This day long seminar covered the whole gamut of procedures, laws, rules, regulations and significantly, the safeguards and security of voter validity, and the voting process followed during the formal county wide elections. Did I learn every possible thing there was to know? Not hardly! But, after the training I left with the instructions, printed materials and assurances that my work at any subsequent election would be supervised and coordinated by more experienced “Inspectors” who did know the ropes and would be in charge of the activities.

The training I received opened my eyes and brought awareness to how important, and significant this election process was; how important that transparency was; and that there were always checks and balances to assure that every single step was taken in a bipartisan way with the overwatch of both major parties. Everything was done “Together” under the watchfulness, and in coordination with the other.

Having my eyes opened to the adherence to the “rules,” and the integrity, of this process, I think it would behoove any politician running for a major elected political position, to attend a training session such as the one available to me. They end up with taxpayer funded salaries a lot more fruitful than what I was paid to attend. 

Most “eligible” voters are aware of the Voter Registration process, so I won’t bore you with those details. You have to be registered in the district where you vote. You can register in person at your local Board of Elections office, by mail, having obtained the necessary form, or online.  Same Day voter registration is not allowed in NYS. A key function of this step is to validate your identity and voter status. The key to this “security lock” is your Department of Motor Vehicles license, or non-driving I.D. In previous years when you went to your polling station to vote all of your information having previously been validated, including your signature was displayed to you from their ledger. “In the day” you would enter the voting booth, pull the appropriate selection levers, and pull down the handle registering your vote and opening the curtain.

Today it is computerized so a trained election inspector will enter your name into an electronic “PollBook” with the device screen facing him or her. If your name comes up, they flip the device screen so you can see it and you sign in, whereupon you are given the ballot and an “approved” black “sharpie marker” which is used by you to color/fill the Circle indicating your selection. When this is completed you are directed to the Document Scanner, into which you insert your ballot.

If there are problems with your registration validation, or in your filling out the ballot, you are offered options to submit an Alternative Ballot.

My first election participation was during the June primaries and I was assisting in the Town of Ward. Let me tell you, I “earned my stripes” as they say in the military, by working from 5:30 AM until 9:30 PM. At no time was there any time where there was less than each party represented. We brought lunches, we couldn’t come and go, so were in the presence of each other the entire day.

I will not go through every single item and duty performed, but from the beginning with activation of the voting machine, every step is documented and counter signed. At the end of the day, all of the ballots registered were documented and the registered number of votes tallied, matched and verified. The document pictorial accompanying this article shows the Steps followed in setting up the voting station, directing voters to the scanner without influencing their voting procedure, and then collecting and submitting the voting tally.

The first side shows the “Seal Report”, the reverse (2nd ) side shows the “Ballot Report”. The voting machine access points are all locked and sealed. There are envelopes/bags where the blank ballots are taken from, and returned to, in the case of alternative ballots. These are accessed only by the “machine inspectors” who initial each tag removed from each sealed compartment.

Some of the voting fraud “claimants” mentioned seeing someone removing a bunch of ballots from a voting machine. If they had seen something like that it was likely after closure of the polls after all of the votes had already been entered and registered in the computer, and were not part of the actual vote process, but likely in counting of unused ballots or something, not nefarious, of that nature.

I cannot speak for the procedures, or adherence thereto, from other States, but I feel very confidant in our process, its integrity, and the legitimacy of your vote in Allegany County and elsewhere.

Please take a look at the seal signage checks and balances. It doesn’t matter if you understand all of the terminology or component labels, the Inspectors do. The experienced Coordinator does, and we are all confident that an election is a “Job well done”.

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