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Something Rotten in a Blue State

By Kerri Provost

November 04, 2010

What if your vote really does not count?

A few readers have contacted me about their concerns that their votes were not being recorded. In the first district, there should be at least three votes recorded for Todd Vachon, a write-in candidate for United States Senator. Currently, the Secretary of the State website is showing zero listed as voting for this candidate. This is not a problem exclusive to the Hartford area, as similar reports are coming from Salem, New Haven, and Mansfield. As of publication, there are nine votes recorded for him in the second district and four in the fifth district.

One reader sent me this note:

"You feel dirty and I felt like some dirt has been flung in my face by the Hartford Registrar of Voters office. On Tuesday I proudly voted for Todd Vachon, Socialist write in candidate for U.S. Senate. I know that my partner Tim and our friend Alvin also voted for him. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the SOTS page and saw in Hartford there were no votes cast for Todd. I called the Registrar of Voters office and talked to Olga Vazquez and she told me when I asked where the write in votes were, ďthe votes are sealed in an envelope and are not opened until a judge orders them to be opened.Ē What! She then told me that the head election monitor told her that when they were in the office late last night. When asked for the name of the monitor who told her this she would not tell me.

"I donít know. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe they do not have to count the legitimate write in votes. I know itís okay to disenfranchise folks all over the place according to some. Like I told the woman at the election enforcement when I called them to file a complaint, I donít allow anyone to take my vote as I came up in the day in this country and saw folks killed, beaten, fire hosed, dog bitten just trying to vote.

"I noticed that there was a bit of confusion at Burns [Elementary] School. I overheard a tender of the scan machine offering to put the ballots in for two people until I loudly said that was a violation. Well lo and behold I saw a local politician who was running in this area flitting in and out of the line talking to folks. I donít even think that she votes at the Burns School but I could be mistaken. After she heard me she left the voting area and went outside not 75 feet from the poll and began to greet and meet out there. One poor guy over voted on his first ballot and then again on his second. I hope someone helped him. Though most of the folks working the poll didnít seem to know fully what they were doing the young man who checked my ID did a very good job.

"I noticed the Republican monitor just sat there on his phone when I am sure with what I saw and heard could have said Violation more than once. All in all though it was nice in a way to see so many people out voting at 10:00 AM exercising their right to vote for the wealthy and more of the same old same old. I donít know perhaps I should go back to my anarchist roots and root for revolution not change that we canít really believe in.

"The highlight of my day was when I could proudly cast my vote for Chris Hutchinson the Socialist Action candidate for U.S representative and write in Todd Vachon of the Socialist Party for Senate. It was nice once again in my lifetime to have someone and something that I believed in to vote for. I usually do not bother voting for the evil twins, voting for a kinder and gentler capitalism of the Greens, or voting for the props of the Democrats the Working Families Party. I canít understand why any thinking persons would want to continue to love the masters and join the enemies. What pray do they the workers have in common with the rich capitalists? I will never know."

Regardless of the viability of a candidate, these votes need to be counted, recorded, and made public. A document provided by the Secretary of the State describes the process for dealing with write-in votes as follows:

"The moderator and assistant registrars of voters shall unlock and remove all the ballots from the write-in bin. They shall record the number of ballots in the write-in bin. They shall count by hand the votes cast for the office in which the elector indicated a write-in vote. They shall record on the moderatorís returns the write-in votes in accordance with the law governing write-in ballots. They shall seal the write-in ballots in a depository envelope marked ďwrite-in binĒ and place them in the ballot transfer case."

These votes do get sealed, but this should not happen until after they have actually been counted.

Some may not find this a priority item, since a third party candidate ó a socialist in particular ó does not typically pose a significant challenge to the outcome of an election; however, this kind of oversight must be taken seriously. If any votes are not counted, the outcome of an election does not accurately represent of the pulse of a region. Besides, it makes one curious as to which other votes are not being counted.

The polls closed in Connecticut 48 hours ago and with the advent of new technology, tallying votes need not be as time consuming as in the past. Take a look at the results posted on the Secretary of the State website. If you voted for someone, but no votes are recorded for your town/district, contact your Registrar of Voters and call the Secretary of the State to file a complaint.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
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