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Thread: Voter fraud? or over the top accusations?

  1. #16
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    Hi Dave, I'll take that bait!!

    Here are a few more examples:
    • It is 7:35pm, and although the Town Clerk indicated there was a quorum at 7:25pm, the meeting has not been called to order.
    • A person who is not registered to vote in the Town has not sought permission to speak, but someone has asked to hear from him. The moderator asks the assembly to vote whether he should speak.
    • A person, recognized by the moderator, begins their remarks with, "Can I ask you...?"
    • A motion that exceeds ten words in length is made, but not presented to the Moderator in writing. The moderator accepts it.
    I believe, though they vary greatly in importance, they all are violations of the Moderator's Rules. In order they violate: IV.A.1., IV.B.4, IV.C.1(c), IV.C.5(c)

    Other examples of violations:
    • A resident's child has vomited, and she has caught the vomit in her hands to prevent soiling the bleachers. (To those who are not parents, I will tell you from personal experience that this is not unrealistic.) She asks her husband to push the Yes button to vote for her before she heads off to the bathroom. (violates IV.D.1b.)
    • The resident who just caught her child's vomit heads off to the bathroom without retaining her handset. (violates IV.D.1b.)
    • A resident chooses not to touch his handset knowing that prior users might have taken it into the bathroom, or have handled it after sneezing or vomiting. He asks his spouse to do the button pushing on his behalf, even though they disagree on about half of the votes. (violates IV.D.1b. - and I do note that people do not have to use handsets if they do not want to; however they are then required to sit in a special section and vote on paper which is sent in to the Moderator via carrier pigeon. OK, that's not 100% true.)
    The point is that if we are reasonable, we try to accommodate each other and we recognize that the purpose of the meeting is to find out the will of the people. I would suggest that if we truly expect people not to vote in the examples above, then the Moderator must be clear that ANY use of anyone else's handset is strictly forbidden. Otherwise, this rule should be treated like all the examples I gave above, and we should expect people to treat them as "obey within reason".

    In the examples above of the vomiting child, I wonder what you would suggest that mother do. Should she call out, vomit in hand, and let the assembled meeting know that she cannot vote because her hands are unavailable to touch her handset? or should she be forced to abstain from the vote? And how should she go about retaining the handset while she cleans her hands?

    My main point in starting this thread was to negate the unreasonable articles and letters and public complaints that we all have read or heard or heard about. To use the word "fraud" or worse a phrase like "widespread fraud" when all that is known that a couple of people might have had their spouses' handset by their side, is irresponsible. To blame this "fraud" on an amorphous group of people who coincidentally all must have voted the same way and disagreed with the viewpoint of an individual writing or talking about it - without knowing who they are, or whether they even did what they are blamed for seems preposterous. I hope we can agree on that.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 04-25-2015 at 06:09 AM.

  2. #17
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    You misunderstood my post, Kim. I said I would comment on whether the hypothetical situations you'd already proposed were violations of additional statutes that govern behavior at Town Meeting. There are state statutes that govern voting, for example.

    Clearly, judgment is required. No one is going to suggest that someone heading for the restroom first return to their seat to to retrieve the handset they left there. However, there is in my opinion no situation that justifies one voter violating the Moderator's Rules by pressing buttons on another voter's handset while the voting window is open.

  3. #18
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    @David - Perhaps you could consider the intent of a rule vs. the rigid application of the words chosen to express it. The intent is to eliminate fraud, and by Kim's definition, none of her hypotheticals would constitute fraud, but they would violate the letter of the rule. I sincerely hope you are not using this as a method to achieve some other goal similar to what the inciters at WVN are doing?

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    You misunderstood my post, Kim. I said I would comment on whether the hypothetical situations you'd already proposed were violations of additional statutes that govern behavior at Town Meeting. There are state statutes that govern voting, for example.
    I reviewed the state statutes and could actually find very little that governed voting at Town Meeting. Here is all that I know of (MGL Chapter. 51, Section 1 https://malegislature.gov/Laws/Gener...ter51/Section1)

    The text is as follows:
    Quote Originally Posted by Mass General Laws
    Every citizen eighteen years of age or older, not being a person under guardianship or incarcerated in a correctional facility due to a felony conviction, and not being temporarily or permanently disqualified by law because of corrupt practices in respect to elections, who is a resident in the city or town where he claims the right to vote at the time he registers, and who has complied with the requirements of this chapter, may have his name entered on the list of voters in such city or town, and may vote therein in any such election, or except insofar as restricted in any town in which a representative town meeting form of government has been established, in any meeting held for the transaction of town affairs. Notwithstanding any special law to the contrary, every such citizen who resides within the boundaries of any district, as defined in section one A of chapter forty-one, may vote for district officers and in any district meeting thereof, and no other person may so vote. A person otherwise qualified to vote for national or state officers shall not, by reason of a change of residence within the commonwealth, be disqualified from voting for such national or state officers in the city or town from which he has removed his residence until the expiration of 6 months from such removal.]
    So as I read it, this defines who can vote
    • a citizen 18 or older,
    • not in jail for a felony (or otherwise disqualified)
    • who is a resident of the town
    So all such people, and no other people ("every such citizen who resides within the boundaries of any district... may vote for district officers and in any district meeting thereof, and no other person may so vote."), can vote. That's all it says. So it defines who can vote, but I do not see how it defines how they vote. Actually, I don't see how it precludes either absentee or proxy voting.


    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    Clearly, judgment is required. No one is going to suggest that someone heading for the restroom first return to their seat to to retrieve the handset they left there. However, there is in my opinion no situation that justifies one voter violating the Moderator's Rules by pressing buttons on another voter's handset while the voting window is open.
    I would say there is virtual equivalence in terms of rule violation between a voter instructing their spouse on how to push a button on their handset while their hands are soiled and a voter leaving their handset behind while they go to the bathroom. Both violate the letter, and neither violates the spirit of the rules. I don't know what logical principle would justify being OK with one, but not the other. [And certainly there are existing circumstances in which a voter can receive assistance voting, e.g. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele14...ter_rights.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by www.sec.state.ma.us
    "You have the right to request assistance when voting from anyone of your choice."
    Note: I saw no restrictions regarding receiving this assistance; it looks like anyone can receive assistance, even if they have no physical impediment.

    I will say that I saw during the Moderator's Forum an assertion that that the right thing to do is, in fact, to bring handsets into the bathroom while at Town Meeting if you need to use the facilities - and as I said earlier in the thread, I STRONGLY disagree with this, and hope that the Electronic Voting Implementation Subcommittee will consider a rule addition requiring that people NOT do this. I really don't want to get a handset on Night 2 of Town Meeting that somebody else brought to the toilet with them on Night 1.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 04-28-2015 at 07:05 PM.

  5. #20
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    Kim, take a look at M.G.L 56.26:

    Whoever, knowing that he is not a qualified voter in any place, wilfully votes or attempts to vote therein; whoever votes or attempts to vote more than once on his own name, his name having been registered more than once; whoever votes or attempts to vote in more than one voting precinct or town, his name having been registered in more than one voting precinct or town; whoever votes or attempts to vote in any name other than his own, or knowingly casts or attempts to cast more than one ballot at one time of balloting; or whoever votes or attempts to vote otherwise illegally, shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
    (emphasis added)

    The Moderator's Rules cited earlier in this thread are intended to prevent one resident from voting with the handset issued to another resident. In support of those rules, the How To Vote Electronically document that for the past 4 years has been included in the Warrant, has been present on the Town's web site, and has been printed in the Wayland Town Crier immediately before each Town Meeting states

    If you temporarily leave your seat during the meeting, please keep your handset with you.
    For the first several years of electronic voting, free sanitary wipes were provided at the Electronic Voting Help Desk. They were never used, so we stopped bringing them.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    Kim, take a look at M.G.L 56.26:

    (emphasis added)

    The Moderator's Rules cited earlier in this thread are intended to prevent one resident from voting with the handset issued to another resident. In support of those rules, the How To Vote Electronically document that for the past 4 years has been included in the Warrant, has been present on the Town's web site, and has been printed in the Wayland Town Crier immediately before each Town Meeting states
    This quite clearly prevents anyone from voting for themselves twice. It's not as clear that it prevents someone from voting on behalf of someone else, but I'll grant that it possibly does. I didn't find this when I looked at voting statutes.

    However, the Voting Bill of Rights that I found makes clear that it is permissible for someone to help another person vote, so I think state law is quite clear that it is fine to assist with voting. The distinction here is that proxy voting is voting for someone who is not present. Assisted voting is voting to effect the will of someone who is present but otherwise requires help to complete their vote. The suggestion that it is never OK to press buttons on someone else's handset is not supported by state laws (referring again to this: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele14...ter_rights.htm), but if we take the meaning of your passage to preclude proxy voting, then I would agree that the person requiring assistance should be present.

    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    For the first several years of electronic voting, free sanitary wipes were provided at the Electronic Voting Help Desk. They were never used, so we stopped bringing them.
    I know that I never considered that the handsets might be journeying into the bathrooms. At future Town Meetings, I'll use those sanitary wipes if they are there.

  7. #22
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    The Moderator's Rules offer a paper ballot to any resident who cannot use a handset. A resident who requests assistance in marking their paper ballot will receive it.

    We'll resume bringing sanitary wipes to Town Meetings. I'll also bring baggies for anyone anticipating a baby vomit event.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    The Moderator's Rules offer a paper ballot to any resident who cannot use a handset. A resident who requests assistance in marking their paper ballot will receive it.
    OK. And state laws require that anyone who wants assistance voting can have it. I do not believe we can have a local rule that overwrites a state guaranteed right. If I'm sitting in the bleachers listening and I'm tired and want to close my eyes, as I understand the state voter bill of rights, I should be able to say to my husband, "please press 2 for me". That is getting assistance with voting, and I am legally entitled to ask for it.

    Imagine I have very weak or shaky hands and both button pushing and ballot marking are difficult for me. There are circumstances in which people can have another vote for them, and my reading of it says that it is protected and guaranteed by state law. And there's nothing in that bill of rights that says I need a doctor's note or a physical impediment or anything in order to request this help. I can just say I need it, and I get it. This is not proxy or absentee voting, it is not someone committing fraud by voting twice. It is someone assisting another.

    But I feel this is confusing the issues. We have gotten off topic. I don't really want people pushing buttons for each other. I am merely making the point that we need to be reasonable and accommodating. The goal here is not to arrest or fine someone for trying to help a spouse or friend. The goal is to have a voting mechanism that is safe and secure and reflects the will of the people. And for the rules to encourage that, and not to encourage witch hunts if the results don't turn out the way we wanted.

    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    We'll resume bringing sanitary wipes to Town Meetings. I'll also bring baggies for anyone anticipating a baby vomit event.
    Thanks on the sanitary wipes.


    You've never reacted to any of my comments about the irresponsible journalism of reporting fraud, "widely observed" and among many people - when no such fraud has been demonstrated. That's what I was, and am, particularly concerned about. And that's where I thought we could reach some common ground.

  9. #24
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    This is what defines illegal assistance: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/Gener...er56/Section28

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass General Laws
    Whoever, at a primary, caucus or election, aids or abets a person who is not entitled to vote, in voting or attempting to vote, or in voting or attempting to vote under a name other than his own, or in casting or attempting to cast more than one ballot, shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
    So what makes aiding someone illegal is if the person they are assisting is not entitled to vote, voting under the wrong name, or trying to submit more than one ballot. The implication is (consistent with the Voter Bill of Rights) that is lawful to assist someone who is legally entitled to vote.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    OK. And state laws require that anyone who wants assistance voting can have it. I do not believe we can have a local rule that overwrites a state guaranteed right. If I'm sitting in the bleachers listening and I'm tired and want to close my eyes, as I understand the state voter bill of rights, I should be able to say to my husband, "please press 2 for me".
    State law does not require that a voter requiring assistance be able choose the means by which they vote. Thus your conclusion -- that you should be able to ask another resident to push the buttons on your handset while a voting window is open -- is incorrect, in my opinion.

    As stated in the Moderator's Rules, paper ballots are available for voters unable to use handsets. Assistance in marking ballots will be provided, if requested.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHBernstein View Post
    State law does not require that a voter requiring assistance be able choose the means by which they vote. Thus your conclusion -- that you should be able to ask another resident to push the buttons on your handset while a voting window is open -- is incorrect, in my opinion.
    I am flummoxed by your unwavering commitment to nobody touching anybody else's handset under any circumstances. I'm not trying to be contrary here, I'm just confused by your logic. Why would it be OK for someone else to mark my ballot for me but not to push a button for me? Certainly, if a polling station had computer voting, that is how a voter seeking assistance (under the Voter Bill of Rights) would vote. They wouldn't pull out some other voting method, they would simply enable a voter to vote as intended using the voting tools available. I understand you want to protect the sanctity of the handset, I just feel you're taking it too far. But I think at this point this horse is sufficiently beaten.

    I'm much more interested in your response to the original issue of the thread -- as I posted a couple of posts back: "You've never reacted to any of my comments about the irresponsible journalism of reporting fraud, "widely observed" and among many people - when no such fraud has been demonstrated. That's what I was, and am, particularly concerned about. And that's where I thought we could reach some common ground."

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I am flummoxed by your unwavering commitment to nobody touching anybody else's handset under any circumstances. I'm not trying to be contrary here, I'm just confused by your logic. Why would it be OK for someone else to mark my ballot for me but not to push a button for me? Certainly, if a polling station had computer voting, that is how a voter seeking assistance (under the Voter Bill of Rights) would vote. They wouldn't pull out some other voting method, they would simply enable a voter to vote as intended using the voting tools available. I understand you want to protect the sanctity of the handset, I just feel you're taking it too far.
    A the Moderator's Rules now stand, anyone seen pushing buttons on multiple handsets with the voting window open is violating those rules. The change you're proposing would permit this action in one scenario, thereby making it more difficult to detect unacceptable actions.

    Had we just completed a 5th year of Electronic Voting at Town Meeting with no whiff of "proxy voting", a proposal to permit "assisted handset voting" would have been worthy of consideration. But after a Town Meeting in which residents were seen and photographed in possession of multiple handsets, my focus is on improving our ability to detect and prevent any resident voting with another's handset -- not on making it easier.

  13. #28
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    My suggestion would be to focus on ensuring that there are only as many handsets in the auditorium as there are eligible voters. If someone who ever had a handset leaves, we should make sure that handset is returned. If we accomplish that, I would be far less concerned about any fraudulent voting taking place.

    My concern about prohibiting assisted voting is that I believe it would be against the law.

    But regardless of your answer, I believe I have said all I want to about this topic.

    I am much more concerned that Wayland Voters Network, and individuals at public meetings have made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. These blanket allegations were unfairly cast at people who were newcomers to Town Meeting, and put all of them in a dark shadow. To call it "fraud" and to say it was "widespread, to say it was "widely observed", the discussion that has centered on these people, none of whom have been shown to have done anything wrong, it irresponsible. I hope these new voters will feel emboldened by it, and not be discouraged from attending future meetings.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 04-30-2015 at 09:48 AM. Reason: clarity pronoun

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    My suggestion would be to focus on ensuring that there are only as many handsets in the auditorium as there are eligible voters. If someone who ever had a handset leaves, we should make sure that handset is returned. If we accomplish that, I would be far less concerned about any fraudulent voting taking place.
    Ensuring that every registered voter surrenders his or her handset when leaving Town Meeting is necessary, but in my opinion not sufficient to provide confidence that proxy voting is not occurring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    My concern about prohibiting assisted voting is that I believe it would be against the law.
    You are conflating a prohibition of "assisted voting with handsets" with a prohibition of "assisted voting". Assisted voting by means of a paper ballot has not been prohibited, and will not be prohibited.

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