We continue our Count The Vote project, refining ways to protect, verify and monitor election results in order to increase transparency and raise public confidence. We are in dialogue with the New York State Board of Elections Co-Chair, Douglas Kellner for this project. He sent us a joint report from the Carter Center and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, supporting nonpartisan election observation,
"Given the barrage of threats to U.S. elections, more robust election observation efforts — particularly nonpartisan observation could be critical to helping ensure the integrity of future elections, beginning with the 2022 midterms."
August 21, 2022
Overall Assessment: Well run site with accurate numbers.
Light Turnout: 198 voters in nine days of Early Voting
This site was well-run by coordinators Rose Malcolm and Carlos Albarran. Poll workers were polite, professional and well-trained. The number of voters and scanned ballots matched, a very important indicator that this part of the election is accurate.
Other checks such as
are also needed. Those are outside the scope of this process.
Problem: The coordinator had no knowledge of the Board of Election policy that allows poll watchers to look at poll books. Once she was shown materials from the board, she was cooperative.
Problem: Ballots are transported by a single police officer. This is usually the case in New York City. This does not follow best chain of custody practices, which require that ballots and election materials are always in the custody of at least two people.
New York state law needs to change to require two people to be with ballots and election materials at all times.
Problem: The candidate we monitored for was not sent the necessary materials for poll watching. Board of Election staff and call centers were unable to locate the information and also gave out incorrect information and non-working numbers.
Candidates must be sent a packet that includes:
Board of Election staff must be trained about poll watching including
In New York, poll watching must be for a candidate or a party. We do not endorse any candidate or party, we are observing so that the elections are fair for all. Our poll watcher certificate was provided by Paperboy Love Prince, who is running for U.S. Congress in New York's 7th District.
Once inside the building is friendly and well-lit. The moving accessible platform to bring voters and workers with disabilities into the space works well. It requires hands to open the gate, but there were two people available to help at all times. There were two ballot-marking devices that were plugged in and working.
Problem: On the outside, the polling location is intimidating and not welcoming due to the scaffolding and construction. The main entrance was closed and signage to vote pointed in both directions, so it was a little hard to find the entrance.
The voting machines and ballot bags were sealed quickly.
Problem: The paperwork bag with the results from Early Voting was not sealed until we requested it. It is important that Early Voting results not be released until after Election Day, so this bag must be sealed as well.
Potential Problem: Results from the media cards are being sent via one of the onsite laptops. This seems less secure than to transport the media cards and pull the results directly. We will check with security experts about this, but wonder why this is being done, when the media cards are being picked up immediately.
This is the form SMART Elections has developed, in collaboration with former Election Commissioner Virginia Martin, to facilitate poll watching.
The form has a place to check multiple times during the day if the number of voters matches the number of ballots that have been scanned.
In this case we checked only once, at the end of the Early Voting period.
In the top grid there are 4 electronic poll books where voters checked in over the course of Early Voting.
Adding these up, 198 voters checked in at this location during Early Voting for this primary.
In the bottom grid under "Public Counter End of Day" it shows the number of ballots scanned on each of 4 scanners.
Adding these up 198 ballots were scanned at this location during Early Voting.
The numbers match, showing that the number of voters and ballots are equal. That is the normal and correct result.
Sometimes you may have a few more voters than ballots, if voters do not complete the process, but there is never supposed to be more ballots than voters.
The Protective Counter tells us the number of ballots that have been scanned in the life of the scanner. In this case the numbers match what we expected. We have seen instances where the protective counter is off. But not in this case.
The summary report was off by 2 ballots due to a problem with the printer. The Board needs to create a place on the summary report to notate that.
The cradle-point that controls the electronic poll books was on and working.
The accessible entrance worked well.
There were two ballot-markers that were plugged in and working.
The voter needs a hand to open the gate to the platform, but there are people available at all times to help.
The ballot bags were sealed after voting ended & picked up by a police officer.
Best practices recommend two people be with election materials at all times, and this needs to be addressed.
We would like more information about why the results are being sent electronically
On August 21st, 2022, we did poll watching in New York Congressional District 7, using the technique we've developed to compare the number of voters to the number of ballots scanned.
New York State requires a certificate signed by a candidate or political party for poll watching. We received the signed certificate from Congressional Candidate Paperboy Love Prince, who is running a campaign in a district that includes his home neighborhood Bushwick. Our project is non-partisan and we do not endorse any candidate. We are working for fair elections for all candidates and voters.
Paperboy Love Prince was not sent the necessary materials for poll watching. The signed certificate from the candidate must include all Assembly Districts and Election Districts being monitored at the polling location. But this information is not readily available and not easy to figure out.
Multiple calls to the New York City Board of Elections were answered by polite but uninformed staff, who
Eventually we found the information necessary by going through our own files and cross-referencing the Board of Elections website until we found the documents listing the Election Districts and Assembly Districts. If you scroll down on this page, you will find a section called Poll Site List. These documents are a little hard to read, but if you blow them up, you can see they have the Assembly Districts and Election Districts for each polling location.
You can see the document below listing the Election Districts and below that how we used that information in the certificate in the upper right corner. You can do this also! Please get involved.
The Early Voting polling site was run in a professional manner by organized coordinators and well-trained and polite poll workers. The number of voters matches the number of ballots scanned. We have identified problems and recommendations above.
Expanding this type of nonpartisan poll monitoring can greatly increase transparency and confidence in election results.
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