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Blog

    Jefferson County NY Foggy on Election Law

    11/03/2009

    As part of FreedomWorks' continued campaign to get out the vote and educate voters on the issues in NY-23 we waited in the rain outside of polling places in Watertown, NY to pass out our candidate side by side found here.

    Election law requires anyone distributing material to stand at least 100 feet from polling places; this rule has long been understood as 100 feet from the entrance of the polling place and not the entire building itself. In Watertown, this was the case as well... at least until about 10:30 am depending on which polling place you went to. In our efforts to help get information out to voters, we passed out our chart and abided by the 100 foot rule. Apparently this wasn't good enough for Jefferson County Democratic Election Board Commissioner Sean Hennessey.

    At the Legislative District 12 polling place located at a fire station on Massey Street the Election Board had seemingly forgotten to measure out the 100 feet and mark it with signs and cones. At 10:30 Mr. Hennessey rolled up to the polling place (while his driver waited in the car) and determined that the rule would now be enforced as 100 feet from any point of the building. Not only does this run counter to previously accepted understanding of the rule, it runs counter to the enforcement that was already going on in his own county. I called the Office of the Election Board prior to the change to inquire about the law and was informed that it was 100 feet from the entrance, and was told it would be ridiculous given how long some of the buildings are.  At this particular polling place, the entrance was on a far corner of the building, and the new enforcement rendered any attempts at passing out information useless.

    It's this type of inconsistent and arbitrary enforcement during election season that leads to concerns over voter fraud and questions of election legitimacy.

    Pictures to follow soon.

    **AFTERNOON UPDATE**

    The selective enforcement continues...

    Apparently Mr. Hennessey has trouble being consistent in his own enforcement of the rules. Shortly after this blog was originally published, he arrived at the polling place at the New York State Office Building on Washington Street, three blocks from the fire station mentioned earlier. At this polling place, like most others, people passing out literature were required to stand 100 feet from the entrance and not the building itself. One would expect Mr. Hennessey to force the people back as he had done earlier; needless to say, he did not. Mr. Hennessey merely stood up a cone that had fallen over in the wind, and went on his way.  The most interesting thing about this situation is that the cone he fixed was approximately 15 feet from one corner of the building.

    Fire Station Polling Place -- The arrow points to the entrance

    The Fire Station Polling Place--The arrow points to the entrance.

    New York State Office Building Polling Place

    The cone that Mr. Hennessey stood up, and the building right behind it.