Voters were never notified there ballot was voided or why and not afforded due process to challenge a decision to void a ballot or the opportunity to cure a ballot such as adding a missing signature or licking and sealing the envelope.
The tally sheets had spaces to record the total number of voided ballots by Election Districts but this figure was often inaccurate or left blank. No count was made of reasons for voiding a ballot such as “envelope not sealed” or “no signature”.
This article will be the first time voters learn their ballots were voided and, in many cases why they were voided. Many will be upset to learn they are now marked as not having voted in the 2020 school election.
Absentee voters in New Rochelle believe their ballots are secret. They are not. Every absentee ballot cast can be viewed by any one of dozens of people involved in or observing the vote counting process.
In school elections in New York, accepted ballots are separated from their corresponding oath envelopes during the counting process. Because the ballots are not placed in a blank envelope before being placed into an oath envelope, anyone observing the counting process can see how a particular person voted in the election when the oath envelope is opened. With smart phone cameras and other types of digital cameras now ubiquitous capturing images of ballots is simple. Anyone Election Inspector curious as to how their neighbor or a school board member or the Mayor or a famous person living in New Rochelle voted that information is readily obtainable.
Because voided ballots were not individually sealed in New Rochelle, as required by law, and, because many ballots were voided due to open oath envelopes or placing a ballot in a return envelope, there was no separation of the names of voters and their ballots.
In our investigation we were given unfettered access to 468 completed but voided ballots of which 407 ballots came with the name and address of the voter and another 44 which came with partial information sufficient to identity the voter (e.g., no name but an address where only one voter was registered),
Writing in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, John C. Fortier and Norman J. Ornstein warned of the risks of voting by absentee ballot.
Voters who vote away from the polling place do not have the same protections as those at the polling place. In particular,these voters do not have a secret ballot, as any ballot cast without a drawn curtain behind oneself is potentially subject to coercion, vote buying and fraud.
Not only were voided ballots not individually sealed, there was no form to document why a ballot was voided and no communication with the voter either on election night or even now, months later.
JUNE 2020 New Rochelle School Election Series