Daily Archives: Jun 23, 2020

Safeguards are being put in place to check mail-in ballots

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, and of course there is an impact as well on Tuesday’s primary election here in Western New York. There are some key points to keep in mind if you still plan to vote in person.

Erie County Election Commissioner (D) Jeremy Zellner phrases it this way, “This is something like we’ve never seen before.” While his GOP counterpart Commissioner Ralph Mohr says, “This is the most difficult election we’ve ever had.”

The two men preparing and overseeing Erie County’s primary election on Tuesday say they’ve tried to think of and plan for all the challenges of this very unusual round of balloting. They realize that most people have probably already chosen their candidate because of early voting and especially absentee, mail-in ballots.

Over 200,000 absentee ballots were sent out to people who requested them online or with a mailed application. That option was opened by the state because many voters may not want to go to a polling place in person with COVID-19 concerns.

The board of elections already received about half of those absentee ballots and more could come in Tuesday or later. Some were just mailed out by the board last week according to Zellner, “If anyone gets their ballot today (Monday) or if they get their ballot in the mail tomorrow…they’ve gotta postmark it by tomorrow ( Tuesday).”

The next issue is making sure all those votes are only properly count once.

“Open up the outer envelopes, make sure that the ballots and security envelopes are assigned to an individual and they’re also alphabetized,” Mohr said. “They all have to be checked to make sure that the person who cast that mail-in ballot also didn’t show up for early voting or also didn’t show up to vote at the polls tomorrow.”

A duplicate ballot will of course be thrown out. So how confident are they there won’t be vote fraud with all the voting options?

“We put additional safeguards in place throughout the entire process of the application and the receipt of the ballot,” Mohr said. “We haven’t seen any evidence of voter fraud. We continue to keep those same safeguards in check.

“If you do vote in person on Tuesday it’s best to wear a mask. You can vote without one but you may have to wait for social distancing. Also take your own pen for safety sake. And it is a good idea to check the Erie County Board of Elections website before you go to check the information.

 

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York state holds primary elections on Tuesday to determine the fate of progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other U.S. House members, testing the strength of the Democratic Party’s left wing after moderate Joe Biden became the presumptive presidential nominee

    Ocasio-Cortez, the 30-year-old progressive firebrand better known as AOC, faces a challenge in her New York City district from former CNBC television anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, 44, backed by the conservative-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    In Buffalo, former City Councilman and National United Way spokesman, Robert Quintana looks to make a comeback into politics as he challenges two others for a seat  in the State Assembly.

    Tuesday’s nominating contests in New York, Kentucky and four other states also feature progressives challenging older, establishment Democrats at a time of a national reckoning with racial injustice following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.

    In a congressional district neighboring Ocasio-Cortez’s, Jamaal Bowman, 44, a former teacher, is mounting a strong challenge to Representative Eliot Engel, a 31-year House veteran who chairs the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Progressive Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as well as Ocasio-Cortez have endorsed Bowman, while Democratic Party stalwarts, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, have rallied around Engel.

    The progressive movement suffered setbacks at the national level earlier this year when former Vice President Joe Biden won the party’s race to take on President Donald Trump in November’s election, with dominant wins over Warren and Sanders in the state-by-state nominating contests.

    The left wing of the Democratic Party is now taking its battle to down-ballot primary races with new energy and purpose, bolstered by growing calls for ending racial injustice and inequality in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.

    House Democrats – progressives and moderates – are expected to band together later this week when they vote to pass sweeping legislation on police practices. But there appeared to be little support in Congress for calls to “defund” police departments, as some on the left sought.

    SPIRITED KENTUCKY CONTEST

    In Kentucky’s primaries, progressive Charles Booker, an African-American state legislator, is waging an unexpectedly spirited challenge to Amy McGrath, an ex-fighter pilot, in the race to become the Democratic candidate to face Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Nov. 3.

    Like Engel, McGrath is backed by the party establishment. But the recent Black Lives Matter protests have elevated the candidacy of Booker.

    Nowhere was that more apparent than when Warren, who supported McGrath in her failed bid for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in 2018 and initially in her Senate candidacy, switched allegiance to Booker.

    “Things are changing quickly here,” said Dewey Clayton, political scientist at the University of Louisville.

    In New York, the moderate-progressive competition is showcased in yet another primary race, where Representative Carolyn Maloney aims for a 15th two-year term in the House.

    The 74-year-old Maloney faces a challenge from the left by 36-year-old Suraj Patel, who worked in commercial real estate and as a campaign aide to former President Barack Obama.

    Patel failed in 2018 to unseat Maloney and is again running for Congress telling voters he is “trying to help change the world” with progressive vows such as “debt-free college.”

    Both New York and Kentucky have encouraged mail-in balloting as a safe alternative to in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting record numbers of absentee ballot requests.

    Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

     

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