Election Observers’ and Voters’ Rights

Above: Don’t worry, “Election Observers” won’t be standing over your shoulder when you vote this Tuesday. There are strict rules in place for dos and don’ts. (photo by Beth Melo)

Southborough’s Donna McDaniel asked if she could share some information with readers regarding the November 8th election.

McDaniel was concerned that recent talk encouraging election “observers” to ensure nothing is “rigged” might intimidate some voters. She researched and summarized the following explanation of the election process and ballot observer dos and don’ts.

(That includes the fact that you shouldn’t just show up and expect to observe. There is a registration process. And it sounds like Monday is the deadline for that.)

Basically, it spells out what observers rights are to monitor fair process, residents’ rights to vote privately without intimidation, and how one’s rights won’t be allowed to infringe on the other.

And, OK, it includes a clear dig at one politician. But for the most part, her facts appear to be impartial:

Election Day
Protecting Your Voter’s Rights — Not to Worry

Thanks to the Commonwealth’s Attorney General and Secretary of State, voters need not worry about being accosted or harassed at the polls on Tuesday. You also not need to worry about the handling of your ballots once you’ve voted. Highlights of laws regarding polling places are given below. Fuller details can be found on “Election Day, Legal Summary” prepared by the two state officers just mentioned. See Eledaylglsum.doc.

Our Town Clerk, James Hegarty, went over regulations with Southborough’s poll workers last week. There are rules about activities such as holding signs (only outside the 150 ft. boundary from the entrance and marked by signs). That line is also the boundary after which no papers, buttons, stickers, or other materials –NOTHING of that nature—are allowed inside. Any worries you might have about confusion or harassment by bystanders should fade rapidly. Any apparent infractions should be reported to the warden inside the polling place.

As in the past, a police officer is assigned to each of our three precincts.

Protecting the Ballots
The care for the ballots began last week when poll workers (e.g. Southborough volunteers) counted each and every of 6,000 ballots distributed by the Commonwealth. Why? After the day, the number of completed ballots in the box plus those not used MUST match that 6,000 total.

At the end of the day after they’re counted and verified, the ballots’ final trip is in boxes transported to the Town House by the police. Totals from our three precincts are compiled by the Clerk and announced to eager people gathered there.

Designated “observers”
Now to the people called observers, a new feature to most of us presumably because the polls have become the object of some concern thanks to a candidate encouraging inappropriate (and even illegal) acts at polling places. If anyone asks your name and address or some identification outside or wants to know who you’ll vote for while you wait in line, you should not respond. That’s exactly the kind of inappropriate behavior that should be brought to the attention of warden inside.

Anyone wishing to be an official observer at the polls must register with the Town Clerk by the day before the election. Those registered meet with the warden to receive, ask questions about, and agree to the regulations and limitations described in this document.

Inside the polls the observers must stand only in a defined space close enough to the check-in tables to hear the person checking in giving his/her name and address. Only one observer from any one organization is allowed at a time (again only if pre-registered as such). There may be more as long as each is from a separate organization.

What Observers Can Do
A person coming to vote first identifies him/herself to the poll worker according to his street address. The worker will repeat the name (so the observer can hear) and check it in one of three books listing all registered voters. During that time, the observer may note the name by checking in his/her own copy of the list of voters (available to anyone at the Clerk’s office).

That is all he/she is allowed to do.

An observer with difficulty hearing the name of a person checking in can ask the warden to repeat it—and only the warden–the person in charge of that particular polling place. Observers may not use a cell phone or speak to any other poll worker for any reason. Period.

And vice versa… the poll worker needs to communicate concerns and questions about observer behavior with the warden, not any observer. And, of course, any observer who is disorderly or obstructs access to voters will be excluded from the polling place. You should report any concerns to the warden of your precinct.

An observer can submit questions to the warden…perhaps a doubt whether a person still lives at a certain address or other uncertainty about an individual voter’s standing. The concern will be examined by the clerk and any questioned ballot is set aside in a special file until the uncertainty is resolved.

Should the space delineated for observers become crowded, those using it (meaning only those who registered) will be asked by the warden to appoint one of the group to collect and then share the names they have gathered with the others who wait outside the area.

Of course, at the end of the day precise regulations about counting votes require verifying the number of voters recorded in the books and the number in the ballot boxes.

Reminder: Find all of this–and more—at Eledaylglsum.doc.

Donna McDaniel

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Southborough Town Clerk
5 years ago

Hello,

While I appreciate Donna McDaniel’s intent to educate voters on rules regarding observers at the upcoming election, but I must correct two factual errors in her post:

1.) “Anyone wishing to be an official observer at the polls must register with the Town Clerk by the day before the election.”
There is no requirement under Massachusetts law for an observer to register with the Town Clerk in advance of an election.

2.) “Those registered meet with the warden to receive, ask questions about, and agree to the regulations and limitations described in this document.”
There is no requirement for an observer to meet with a warden, or “agree to the regulations.” Observers, like everyone at the polling location, must simply follow the rules which will be posted on the walls of the precincts.

Here are some options if you would like additional information on election laws:

Read this document prepared by the Secretary of State which summaries Election Day laws:
https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/eledaylglsum.doc

Look at this link for a long list of Massachusetts Law about Elections and Campaigning:
http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/elections.html

Call the Secretary of State’s Election Division if you have a specific question or a complaint: (617) 727-2828

And you can always email, stop by the Town House or call me if you have any questions about elections or any other issue that I can help you with.

Finally, remember that the polls will be open on Tuesday from 6:30am until 8:00pm.

Thank you!

Jim Hegarty
Southborough Town Clerk
jhegarty@southboroughma.com
(508) 485-0710 x 3005

Jane Smith
5 years ago

So glad you are our town clerk, Jim. You are doing a fantastic job. And thanks for setting us straight on who can move for reconsideration of an article at TM. Many of us have had it wrong for years.

PML
5 years ago

Are the polls really open at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow? Both the news and the Southborough voter web page say not until 7 a.m. I am hoping for 6:30 so I can vote before work.

Thanks for any clarification.

Kelly Roney
5 years ago

A somewhat related question: Does the DPW have a position in the Presidential race?

I ask because Trump supporters were parked there long term this afternoon, where parking is supposed to be limited to 15 minutes. Yet they were permitted to remain parked there. Based on the rules and past practice, they should have parked their vehicles down near the office and walked their signs up to the recycle center.

Either the rules apply to all, or they apply to none. Which is it?

By the way, there is no doubt that people are free to campaign in the recycle center, just not to use their vehicles as sign boards.

Randell V.
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

I’m sure if they had Hillary signs this wouldn’t be an issue.

Frank Crowell
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

“Either the rules apply to all, or they apply to none. Which is it?”

That is what many have been saying since early July.

Just call me “deplorable”

JMO
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

As far as I know all the 15 minute parking limit signs were eliminated. As for Trump supporters hogging spaces, it’s kind of like Black Lives Matter group blocking Interstate 93 in Boston (I believe that was the highway) in January 2015, that’s not a good way to get sympathy for your cause.
But, let’s not accuse the DPW of being partisan. That’s really kind of unfair.

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  JMO

I’ll respond to the only substantive comment, not the usual nonsense from the usual self-described “deplorable” and really silly stuff about #BLM.

If the 15-minute limits are gone, I stand corrected, and we Democrats will be up there in future elections. If we get in the way, we’ll be civil and neighborly and relocate our vehicles.

As believers in the social contract…

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  JMO

One more thing, I was looking for the DPW to say, “No, we don’t have a position.”

Donna McDaniel
5 years ago

Oh dear. Apparently I must have been hallucinating again. I remembered, I thought, particularly that the observer had to register by a day before because I wondered if someone who missed that deadline might make a fuss about being declared too late.
I was also concerned that voters would be curious or even upset by the fact that poll workers checking in will be repeating names so that individuals –the observers–nearby are checking off names in their own copies of the registration books.
Oh well, I certainly don’t like challenging our new Town Clerk–doing SUCH a great job! –not long after his baptism at our largest Town Meeting in years and now what promises to be one of the largest election days in town maybe ever! Anything after this may well be the proverbial “piece of cake!”
I do wish I had made it clearer that ballots are counted electronically and, of course, the electronic totals from each precinct are combined at the Town House .

DJD66
5 years ago

Donna – what are the ileagal acts a certain candidate is encouraging? I assume you are referring to Trump? Why didn’t you just come out and name him? FYI, I am not voting for Trump, but I found interesting that you had to politicize an article that should be strictly educational.

Here’s where I’m going to get political,….
As voter ID, it is insane that we don’t Require this already!
Drive a car – ID required
Travel outside the US – ID required
Fly on a plane – ID required
Buy liquor at a store- ID required
Go to a bar/restaurant – ID required
Check into a hotel – ID required
Open a checking account – ID required
Get a new job – ID required

I could go on and on – as I’m sure I left off a lot of other situations that you need ID. Why is it we don’t require people to properly ID themselves at the polls? I don’t think it happens in Southborough – but I am fairly certain fraud goes on in other parts of the country ( vote early and often). A simple solution ( this will not eliminate all fraud) would be to require an ID to get your ballot.

djd66
5 years ago
Reply to  DJD66

Watch this video,… I can not believe this is our President. This is why you should have an ID to prove who you are when you are voting,… and yes – you should be a legal citizen of the USA!
https://videos.files.wordpress.com/3cGeWMgL/presiddent-obama-tells-illegals-it-is-ok-for-them-to-vote_dvd.mp4

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  DJD66

Nope, your being “fairly certain fraud goes on” is not based on evidence, and in-person vote fraud almost never happens. Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem – at least in public. In private, Republicans who insist on voter ID admit it’s about suppressing certain demographics that are hostile to them at election time.

The reason in-person vote fraud is so rare is that it’s risky and it won’t scale up enough to change the outcome of an election. The chances of getting away with large scale in-person vote fraud are so low that no one tries it.

Still, if you want voter ID to solve an imagined problem, spend the money necessary to provide IDs to legitimate voters who have given up their driver’s licenses or never had one. That way, you’re not discriminating in favor of people who have lives like yours and mine.

mike fuce
5 years ago

DJD, I agree, it is because the illustrious Teddy Kennedy got Motor Voter Registration and voting pushed through years ago and it has got worse ever since. I will vote early tomorrow but I dont think that should even be allowed – look at what is being revealed now day by day about Clinton. I am sure some, not all would like to change their votes. It is a system fraught with mischief. ie. dead people vote, multiple voting, ie. Vote early vote often. Pure and simple I pray to God that Trump pushes through 1. you have to vote in person (although I agree with town meeting votes being allowed electronically) – I am sincerely sorry if you cant get to he polls 2. You must have a current valid drivers license – everyone except for the ,0001 percent older than 18 has a state issued driver license.

D. McGee
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Your “vote in person” requirement just eliminated all military personnel stationed abroad from voting. Nice.

Also, it adds nothing to the conversation to make unsubstantiated blanket statements as if they were based on fact. Where are your stats on dead people voting, multiple voting, and the ridiculous 0.0001% over 18 without a drivers’ license? What are your sources? How many elderly people don’t renew their drivers’ licenses? Handicapped? How many urban dwellers without cars don’t have licenses?

Facts matter.

Mike Fuce
5 years ago

I did not know that so thank you very much

Mike Fuce
5 years ago

Dave I sensed a little bitterness there. That’s why this election is so bitter and why America is so unhappy. Wouldn’t you agree we have a problem across America with voting fraud? it’s been that way for a long time. Obviously military personnel are exempt it was the Democrats that wouldn’t allow them to vote in the last election. many many votes did not get a cast. Will you challenge that is well? As far as the rest goes, I would just say sorry, their votes matter, but there’s too much fraud and by the way Democrats do a very good job of picking up the inner city folks , elderly folks, and driving them to the polls. Again do your own homework. do your own homework with dead people voting, it’s all over the news. Not just Democrats , not ljust Republicans it’s from all sources.

Algonquin Student
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike Fuce

Mike, I’m sorry, but are you seriously condemning Democrats for working hard to get their top demographics to the polls? This is a common practice from both sides in all kinds of elections. The only reason you do not see Republicans doing this is because Trump has a poor ground game and he is trying to defend the ticking time bomb that is his campaign. Please, please, please do your research. Stop watching Fox, and most importantly, vote Clinton!

D. McGee
5 years ago

No, I would not agree in the slightest that we have a problem with voter fraud, nor would the people who actually study the issue agree (as opposed to people who just “hear it all over the news”). For example, from the Brennan Center (a non-partisan law and policy institute at NYU):

“The Brennan Center’s ongoing examination of voter fraud claims reveal that voter fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. Our report “The Truth About Voter Fraud” reveals most allegations of fraud turn out to be baseless — and that of the few allegations remaining, most reveal election irregularities and other forms of election misconduct.”

Nearly all scholarly studies agree. Once again, the difference between real research and facts, versus “well, I heard it on Fox and Breitbart so it must be true.”

You’re response will likely be the usual knee-jerk “sure, that’s the liberal elite writing those reports”, so I will save you the typing with my preemptive reply: “Whatever.”

DJD66
5 years ago
Reply to  D. McGee

The Brennen center is non partisan??? Really? Was the $7 million in funding that came from George Sorros non partisan too? Love that you are so open minded that your response to me would be “whatever” Sounds like something a 12 yo would say.

Mike Fuce
5 years ago

So D.Mghee you sound to be a liberal Democrat and you won’t even agree that there’s voter fraud happening across America, there are illegal aliens voting across America, (your own president said it on a liberal show just this past week telling illegals to get out and vote) and voter intimidation across America ( We have videos and pictures over the years of black panthers in Philly with baseball clubs intimidating white people trying to vote) , you have polling places in Philadelphia that had 100% of the vote for Obama this past election and that’s statistically impossible. And you choose to use the Brennan Center as a point of reference , it being the most liberal K Street activist organization from New York U ( I already know you don’t see it that way) Could you find something more balanced like CNN joke – joke , that has to fire Donna Brazil for cheating and giving Hillary questions for the debates? Then you choose to throw out Breitbart and FOXNews. The problem is D. Mghee with folks who feel like you and liberal democrats in America is there’s no meeting in the middle. That’s why voters Are mad as hell and my seriously flawed candidate Donald Trump probably will win. You’re mad because you’re losing, Clinton is losing and you keep losing seats in the house and in Congress. You’re loaded up the voter rolls in North Carolina to try to win with immigrants from The Middle East and Mexico , Obama and Clinton have. That’s what I’m concerned about. Its called jury mandering and cheating. You’ve got two swing states who have purchased electronic voting machines from a company that’s owned and funded by George Soros who is committed to what many believe in destroying America. All you have to do is look at Volkswagens recent electronic manipulation of their omissions software during motor vehicle inspections and you know what they can do with these electronic machines. And they can do the same things with the machine supplied by Soros.

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike Fuce

How many lies here? No wonder you like Trump.

President Obama, in the video you posted, advocated citizens vote without worry about investigation. Neil Cavuto could and did intentionally propagandized for a myth.

Black Panthers! Bwahahaha. One guy stood in front of one precinct with no weapon for maybe an hour. But your knickers are perpetually in a twist over it.

Wonder if there were any precincts in Utah that went 100% for Romney. I guess you’ve given up repeating the nonsense that more voters showed up than were registered. Or did you just forget to forward that silly right-wing trope? I know, it’s hard to keep up so many manufactured outrages.

Nice to know you’ve forgotten the massive gerrymander (spelling tip!) the Republicans perpetrated after their 2010 victories. Were you aware that Democrats won more votes in House races in 2012 by far but still didn’t win a majority of seats?

K Street liberal!? Hilarious.

LIberals won’t meet in the middle. Srsly, dude, it was Republicans in Congress, goaded by Rush Limbaugh, who met and agreed to make Obama fail, and the heck with America.

Last, the George Soros voting machine story is a complete lie. Snopes shows it. But you believe Breitbart (not credible), so you won’t believe Snopes. In fact, it’s Bush Republicans (old news!) who own Diebold and lots of voting machines.

But, I know, Mike, you’ll have plenty more bull. If any of it’s even half true, I’ll be surprised.

Kate
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

Great response. However, it is understandable that individuals may only see their own side of an argument, and choose sources which support that view.

DJD66
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

Kelly – did I miss something in the video I posted? The president was asked point blank, “if I am illegal and I vote will anything happen to me?” He actually encouraged the person to vote! How about responding and saying, 1) if you are here illegally you should not be, as it is against the law. I was elected to uphold the laws in this country. 2) if you are not a citizen , you can not vote.

As far as the black panthers – yes that did happen and the DOJ did absolutely nothing about it! What would you be saying if it were guys in white hoods?

You really think we don’t have a problem with fraud? Don’t like Fox News ,.. Fine. Does google work? Try googling Voter Fraud.
This just happened yesterday: http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/pennsylvania-state-police-raid-registration-offices-voter-fraud-sting/

Here’s another article in National Review telling how easy it is to commit voter fraud: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/368234/voter-fraud-weve-got-proof-its-easy-john-fund

Fraud happen in all aspects of our lives – not just voting. Why wouldn’t you want to take simple steps to prevent that fraud?

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  DJD66

Yeah, you saw only the careful right-wing edit of the video, and even it showed President Obama saying that his host, as a citizen, could vote.

If you watch the whole 7 minutes, it’ll be clear to you.

One guy, no bat, and the police appropriately dealt with him! DOJ? Don’t be silly.

If you’re honest about voter ID, you have to pass a law that pushes IDs to voters who don’t have a driver’s license. Not a single Republican legislature has been honest. They are intentionally trying to discriminate in voting against poor people, especially minorities who live in cities. Are you on board with that?

DJD66
5 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

I watched all 7 minutes and I know what I saw and what the president said.

As far as the black panthers, watch this video – you think this is not intimidating???? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=neGbKHyGuHU or this one,… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IP4Z6UvJoE8 Would you not feel intimidated?? Come on Kelly, this stuff actually happened. Stop drink the Kool Aid. If you really stand for the small guy – why wouldn’t you feel outraged about these kinds of things happening?

Yes, I am honest about voter ID. I would be happy to fund this and do what it takes to give IDs to people that don’t have them – at no cost. All I want to do is protect mine and your vote and that I have the right to vote. If you are not here legally or you have not registered – you do not have the right to vote !

D. McGee
5 years ago

Wow! That kind of uneducated, stereotyping and flat out racist rhetoric will thankfully be rejected tomorrow by thinking and decent Americans, who will elect the first woman President of this country. And by the way, Obama is YOUR President too, unless you don’t consider yourself an American.

Fred
5 years ago
Reply to  D. McGee

First Women Who ?

southsider
5 years ago

Don’t encourage him. He can’t help but respond.

Kelly Roney
5 years ago
Reply to  southsider

Sorry!

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