Thursday, February 9, 2017

County Appeals State Supreme Court Election Ballot Ruling

New York's Essex County will Appeal a ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Martin Auffredou last month that ordered the County to release Electronic Ballot Scans and Cast Vote Records from a recent Local Election.

While not named as plaintiffs, the Essex County Board of Supervisors voted to continue to Fund and support the Appeals process following a 90-minute Executive Session and a volley of Lawmaker discussion on Monday.

The chief reason to Appeal, said County Attorney Dan Manning, is not to Block Transparency, but rather to Safeguard the Privacy of Voting.

The case lies at the confluence of State Election and Freedom of Information Law.

Following the 2015 General Election, Essex County Democratic Party Chair Bethany Kosmider, the Plaintiff in the Lawsuit, requested access to the Voting records with a FOIL request.

Manning and former Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Ferebee said a FOIL was insufficient, and Kosmider instead needed a Court Order to gain access to the Ballots, citing Election Law S-3222, which determines only a Judge or Legislative investigatory Commission can release copies of those records.

The results of that Election had already been finalized, said the officials, who denied her request.

Had Kosmider received a Court Order, the Litigation could have been prevented, Ferebee had said.

Officials denied Kosmider’s subsequent Appeal, State Election Law is “vague and inartful,” Manning had said, and more clarity is needed, and she filed the Lawsuit last October, naming Ferebee and Election Commissioners Allison McGahay and Mark Whitney as defendants.

Kosmider said the lawsuit was necessary to get the Court Order. “You don’t get a court order until you a file a lawsuit,” she said.

But, Manning said, Election Law contains a number of avenues to examine Ballots before the results are filed and before a Court Order is required.

Those options include Witnessing Recanvassing and Certification efforts, as well as asking the Board of Elections to audit a small sample of the results.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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