To the editor,

In reference to the recent Bob Lonsberry column “The election won’t be stolen” published in The Palladium-Times:

Regardless of what Lonsberry’s politics are, he has an obligation when talking about the voting procedures in New York state to get the facts correct. It is also incumbent on the editorial staff of the paper, to be sure that, when election procedures and laws are presented to the public, that the laws are stated correctly so not to cause confusion at the polling places.

Lonsberry incorrectly identified “Poll Watchers” as being hired by the Board of Elections, which is irresponsible on his part and it is completely incorrect. Poll Watchers are appointed by the chairman of any such party, committee or independent body or by the candidates. (New York Consolidated Laws, Election Law - ELN § 8-500. Watcher; provision for):

1 Watchers shall be appointed by the chairman of any such party, At any committee or independent body or by the candidates. general, special, town or village election, any party committee or independent body whose candidates are upon the ballot, and at any primary election, any two or more candidates and any political committee may have for each election district three watchers at any one time, not more than one of whom may be within the  guard rail at any one time.

2 Watchers may be present at the polling place at least fifteen minutes before the unlocking and examination of any voting machine or ballot box at the opening of the polls, until after the signing of the inspectors’ returns and proclamation of the  result.

3 Such certificate shall be delivered The appointment of to an inspector at the election district. watchers for any election shall be by a certificate in writing issued by the chairman or secretary of the political party or independent body, or the  candidates.

4 Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as prohibiting any such candidate from visiting a polling place in such district on an election day while the polls are No person shall be open. appointed or act as a watcher who is a candidate for any public office to be voted for by the voters of the election district in the same election in which Each watcher must be a qualified the watcher is to serve.  voter of the city or county in which he or she is to serve.

“Poll workers” are hired by the Board of Elections through “Party” recommendations and those individuals have to go through rigorous training and must pass a test to become certified. This is a big distinction, as the “Poll Workers”, are in charge of the polling place. Poll Watchers, who are appointed by the designated party, are to “ONLY” observe and have no responsibility, other than questioning the poll workers if something doesn’t look proper. They can take no action, are not qualified on procedures, and can only advise the candidate/party if there is something that they think is not correct.

With the Nov. 3rd election less than two weeks away and all the misinformation being spread by President Donald Trump and his associates, it is important that there be no misunderstanding or confusion at the polling locations due to an editorial posted by a person that is not fully aware of New York state polling procedures. People going to the polls to cast their votes need to be advised by well-trained Poll Workers, not party faithfuls appointed by their political party with no training.


Dick Atkins


(1) comment


This is a prime example of what happens if you trust computers blindly. The text of the section of New York election law 8-500 that Mr. Atkins cites is largely included in the three subsections he quoted. Unfortunately, none of them is rendered correctly. Sentence fragments are randomly interspersed and the order of sentences is jumbled as well. I was unsure whether this was due to multiple cut-and-paste errors by the letter writer or editorial mistakes by the publisher. Based on a series of experiments I conducted (with help from other computer users) it seems that the likely cause is a mismatch between versions of Microsoft's Word program - although a corrupted version being used by Mr. Atkins can't be ruled out. Some "blame" may also belong to the New York Senate. The word "chair" in the finished version was replaced by "chairman" in the mis-rendered copy suggesting that original language during drafting and revision of the original bill survived in vestigial form. CHECK what you write. Microsoft is NOT your friend.

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