The Agony Of The Charter Campaign Continues

In the November 8 edition of the Times Union Wendy Liberatore wrote a follow-up story on the charter vote.

In the story Bob Turner voices alarm that of the 8,724 ballots cast, 368 did not vote one way or the other on the charter.  Ms. Liberatore wrote, “He and Gordon Boyd, another member of the Charter Review Commission, were told by voters that not all of the poll workers told them to turn over the ballot, as the workers should have.  “We are concerned by the under vote,” he said.

Liberatore goes on to point out that the “The city’s Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, for whom the city clerk works, said he does not know of any irregularities at the polls and that it is often the case that voters don’t turn over the ballot, even when they are told to. But Franck said he didn’t tour each polling site this year like he usually does.”  In true Liberatore fashion she implies that somehow Franck was responsible for the problem.

In a considerably better article that appeared in the Gazette, Bill Fruci, Democratic Election Commissioner, explained that the training of the people from both political parties who staff the polling places is done by the county not the city.  He further noted that it is not uncommon for voters to abstain from voting on items on the ballot.  Also, to have only 4% of the ballots not completely marked is a very modest number.

Liberatore continues, “The charter review commission countered that Franck’s involvement in the fight was also a violation of state law because elected officials are to remain publicly neutral when city voters consider adopting a new charter.”  Since the Charter Review Commission dissolved at 9:00 PM the night of the election, I will guess that this came from either Turner, Kane, or Boyd or all three.  Why Ms. Liberatore did not properly attribute this complaint is unclear.  Consistent with the past comments of the pro-charter spokespersons they (and Ms. Liberatore) ignored that Mayor Yepsen and Commissioner Mathiesen had not been publicly neutral.  Both had written letters to the editor, made statements to the press, and appeared prominently in the pro-charter mailers.

Saratoga Today also has an article in this week’s edition on the on-going saga of the charter. In it Bob Turner in a demonstration of wretched excess compared the charter election to Florida in 2000.  He warns us we are heading for brand new legal territory.  In fact, reliable sources tell me that the “It’s Time Saratoga!” people have hired attorney Jim Long to represent them when the absentee ballots are opened and to potentially challenge them.

In response, there will be a special meeting of the City Council on Monday to consider hiring a lawyer to represent the city in this process.  I spoke to John Franck who told me emphatically (John Franck knows how to tell you something emphatically!)  that the purpose of the lawyer representing the city is not to challenge any ballots but to insure the proper process is followed and to advocate on behalf of the city that to the extent possible, all ballots be counted.  This is to say that should the “It’s Time” people challenge a ballot the attorney representing the city will review and if appropriate defend such ballots.

So, dear reader, you might ask “what is the point of challenging a ballot when you do not know if it is for you or against you?”  Well, the names of all the people casting absentee ballots are public.  Excessively zealous individuals could contact these people trying to find out how they voted.  They could then attempt to invalidate the ballots of those people on the other side of the issue.  I know it sounds bizarre but it has been done in the past.

In contrast to all of this, Richard Sellers on behalf of SUCCESS told the paper, “We’re confident in the Saratoga County Board of Elections and we look forward to a clear outcome.”

I do not know the Republican Commissioner of Elections but I have known the Democratic Commissioner, Bill Fruci , for decades.  Bill, aside from being an extremely nice person has demonstrated over the years extensive knowledge of election law and a high standard for fairness.  Notwithstanding Bob Turner’s hyperbole, this is not the first election in which absentee ballots have  been scrutinized and potentially challenged.  In the end, if one or more ballots are challenged, a judge will determine their validity.

Ballots can be invalid for a number of reasons but the issues are not as obscure as hanging chads.  If the voter checks off more than one choice for the same office or propositions, that particular selection is obviously invalid.  The envelopes the absentee ballots are sealed in must be properly signed and dated.  The post mark must be prior to the election.  All of this is fairly straight forward.  In general the courts have been reluctant in these cases to rule ballots invalid emphasizing the need to protect the right to vote.

Here is a link to the article.

9 thoughts on “The Agony Of The Charter Campaign Continues”

  1. Oh, the agony…
    The agony, no matter what the recount outcome is, the agony of a city truly divided.

    The agony that is felt by members of the Charter Reform Commission – they got close to their promised land – but were denied entrance on election night. A fitting reward for their arrogant conduct throughout this election cycle. By law, the Commission has been disbanded. Bye!

    In previous posts, I commented that I felt the Charter Revision Plan was going to lose, and, Lord help me – I’m doubling down.

    It’s still going to lose, says I.

    Though in most cases, absentee ballots reflect the general consensus of the electorate, I believe in this case it does not. For one thing, Republicans are not a majority of resident voters in our city, but they are the majority of absentees that returned ballots – strike one.

    While we cannot say who exactly received and filled out absentee ballots – it is not a stretch to believe that a majority are retirees/snowbirds. If so, chances are they voted on a Charter Revision Plan before, perhaps twice. You do the math – strike two.

    Finally, even if the ‘Yes’ Charter Revision Plan side gets ALL the absentee ballots, some rough math shows that this would give them about a 53/47 percent margin of victory. Hardly a mandate to implement their grandiose schemes.

    And, they ain’t getting all the absentee votes – strike three. Take a seat on the bench.

    What their legacy will be, regardless of the final count – will be a divided city. Nice going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So to follow your thought pattern, all of the 3 races not yet settled means that we not only are a divided City on the Charter issue but also on the DPS & Supervisor races? If Peter Martin wins his seat this will be the most shocking victory in Saratoga Politics in years as Mr. Braim and the Republican Party spent more money than ever in the election this year and that counts the Change vote also.

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      1. Well, I do agree with you in part – I was surprised myself at the DPS race result, but there is a world of difference between one commissioner race and the entire governing structure… Many people (including myself) were inclined to consider changes to the Charter, but voted No when presented with this wholesale structure change without any sort of credible documentation as to how it work. Because of their incredible lack of strategy and tactics, they made what could have been a victory for meaningful change into a nail-biter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What is the real motive behind this coalition of fake Saratogians?

    Accepting outside funding is extremely telling.
    What is the gain in targeting the few, successfully run, municipal governmental systems?

    To what end?
    These same people truly believe the USA is a true democracy when nothing could be farther from the truth.

    America is not a true democracy.
    She is built on the basis of Greek democratic principals but champions the Roman Republic’s basis in citizen representation.

    America is a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC.

    “I pledge Allegiance to the Flag,
    Of the Untied States of America,
    And to the REPUBLIC for which it stands,
    One Nation, Under God,
    With Liberty and Justice for all.”

    The framers, in their infinite wisdom, designed our constitutional government to be the best amalgam of both concepts. Saratoga Springs has one of the oldest, functioning government models, based on the original republic concept. Such a model cannot be easily corrupted or controlled.

    Ah, there’s the rub!
    Perhaps Saratoga is targeted because it represents one of the last remaining, citizen accountable systems, the last bastion of true citizen-governance; one of the last holdouts against cultural marxism?

    John 8:32 NIV comes to mind.

    -JC

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  3. Jim Long was hired by the Peter Martin for Public Safety campaign. It’s Time Saratoga does not have the standing to participate in the scrutiny of the absentee and others papers ballots nor does the City Council. Only voters, candidates, and political parties do.

    Why would a City Council hire a lawyer to participate in a process that 1) they have no standing to litigate or object too and 2) where the Bi-Partisan Board of Elections is mandated by law and their oath to conduct the elections according to law and 3) would amount to public money being spent on the individual members personal interest?

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    1. Mr. Johnson, It’s Time Saratoga may not have a standing to participate in the scrutiny but are welcome as any other citizen to attend and if the City does indeed waste money in hiring a lawyer to represent Franck, Madigan & Scirocco then the pro Charter group should also have their attorney there participating.

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      1. Well, it seems the city has already wasted money on a lawyer to support the pro charter group since Mayor Joanne Yepsen took Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo along with her when she went down to the County Board of Elections first thing the day after the election with now former Charter Commission members Gordon Boyd and Bob Turner.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We need someone who is trustworthy, honest, forthright, and not connected to any political party.
    So why would we hire an attorney?
    A bit of sarcasm, but it’s mostly the way intelligent people think. And they are correct to think that way.
    Arthur, I agree. The city is divided, wounded you might say. God bless us, one and all.

    Liked by 1 person

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