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:
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.
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.