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Suffolk County Board of Elections needs help…

Kimberly writes:

Just two of the many, big problems at the Suffolk County Board of Elections:

1. As of 2009, the workers do not know their stuff and give out wrong information.

Recently, a potential candidate called me and said the Suffolk County BOE told him it was too late to file petitions, the deadline to file was over. But, that was the deadline for parties. There was still time for filing “Independent Nominating Petitions” for people who want to run on “made-up” lines, or on the lines of parties without ballot status (like the Libertarian Party and Green Party here.)

To check, I called the BOE myself, and sure enough, when I asked the deadline to file independent nominating petitions, they did not know the words “independent nominating petitions”, and they kept looking it up and telling me it was too late to file petitions. I told them they were wrong and asked to talk to a Commissioner and finally got a good answer. But, wonder if they chased a lot of candidates away with that wrong information. (That is the Katherine Harris method. Create chaos by hiring people who do not know their job.)

2. I have heard many past stories (have not heard this year) where candidates go with their petitions, and packet of papers and signatures, and the Board of Elections convinces them not to file. If a candidates (and her volunteers) goes to all the trouble to file, of course she should file what she has. And, if the BOE wants to reject it, force them to make the decision and do it. But, at least two times, I have heard of the BOE taking someone into a room and making the candidate think they will be embarrassed or in trouble if they file.

Right now, by definition and law, every Board of Elections in New York State is split down the middle of Democratic Party appointees and Republican Party appointees. And, the premise is that if someone from each of those major parties is watching, everything will be fair. That is not the case.

My easy (ie: middle ground, sellable to the public) solution to this problem in NY: Ask for a state law that there be one person at every Board of Elections– probably a Commissioner-level, but, maybe just an info person — who is a “Third party/Independent Ombudsperson.” That person could help independent candidates, third party candidates, and also insurgent candidates in primaries.

Also, if the state will not do it, I believe that a local county Board of Elections, through the County Legislature, could just create this position of Ombudsperson and appoint someone whose political part is NOT Democrat or Republican.

And, finally, if neither the state of county will fix the problem, citizens could always help themselves. I have had this idea that a cooperation of local citizens, community groups and/or third parties, could just institute a Third Party/Independent Ombudsperson Program themselves. They would just pick a day of the week, and send one volunteer to sit in the lobby of the Board of Elections with a t-shirt or button that says, “If you are not a Democrat or Republican, I can probably help you.” And, that person can have fliers and answer questions for independent and third party citizens and candidates as a favor to like-minded souls. Then, the cooperating groups put on their calendars which day of the week people could go to the BOE to find the ombudsperson.

After the NY State Senate debacle, we should probably try to add support for third parties and independents. When the only folks in power are Democratic and Republican paid, patronage recipients and elected officials, then a lot of people are shut out. And, then a few, unscrupulous elected officials can cause a whole bunch of problems, switching back and forth for the favor of one party or the other, (Think: State Senators Espada and Monserrate.)

4 Responses

  1. Great idea. Have you floated it around before?

  2. There are serious problems on Long Island – residents should also be aware of the Real Estate scams currently in progress …

    http://satansez.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/beware-the-new-shark-on-the-block-long-island-realtors/

  3. Nice website…I am an “insurgent” Democrat trying to get on the ballot now for 2012, US Senate. I missed 2010, not getting near enough signatures. My basic info is at my web site and I am also forming The Democratic Tea Party which really is going to be the same platform as on my web site for the most part. Check it out. Hopefully you agree with more than you disagree. I am not a cookie-cutter Democrat.
    Scott Noren DDS
    I need your help..I am NOT a Greenie but more Independent than anything
    http://www.norenforsenate.com
    email me in the link in the website or here it is also
    norenforsenate@gmail.com

  4. You can contact the Suffolk County Board of Elections at (631) 852-4500

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