Election Commission Meeting Liveblog

Coverage: Telegram article, WoMag liveblog, video of the meeting

6:01 – Steve Foskett is here!

6:03 – official minutes distributed to board members; first sentence was stricken.  Minutes accepted with that change.

6:04 – Secretary of State’s response about recording equipment.  They have not heard from the Secretary of State, will be discussed at the next meeting.

6:05 – scheduling of mandatory poll worker training.

Stipend of $20 for wardens, clerks, and inspectors.  (Mandatory for wardens only)

Three sessions: one during day, one in evening, one on weekend.

6:06 – Clerk and Meduna enter.

Clerk: police training tentatively scheduled for last week of October.

Status of ramp on 5-3; it’s reserved and will be installed for November election.  Will look at whether building improvements will bring it to full compliance (so that temp ramp not needed).

6:08 – letter from Clayton Williamson.

Mohieldin: asks City Solicitor about the role of guard rail/defining polling place.

Solicitor says there needs to be some line of demarcation — observers are allowed to be at check-in tables.  They need to be able to hear people checking in to vote.

Goggins: could warden use masking tape?

Solicitor says that should suffice.

Goggins – observers do not have to furnish ID?  Could we as a board ask observers to give their name (and address)?

Solicitor – city committees and state committees can designate observers.

He might need to get clarification from Secretary of State regarding identification.  Observers are not allowed beyond the guard rail.

Goggins – observers are not allowed to speak directly to poll workers or each other.  Only with warden.  Solicitor confirms.

6:13 – need to address comments to the warden, says Moore.

Winant – regarding authority of wardens – if warden determines observers are disruptive, does the warden have the right to ask them to be removed?  Can police detain observers?

Moore – law says no person may be disorderly in polling place.  Warden can identify them as disorderly, police officer can remove them from polling place (civil matter) or it’s a crime to be a disorderly person at a polling place (criminal).

Moore – better practice to give warning before removal, and if person is a voter, they should have opportunity to finish voting (within limits) before removal.

They are asking whether they need to wait for a ruling from secretary of state, and the broadness of their powers.

Goggins – if nothing in CMR relative to asking for observer identification, can we have that as primary powers?

Moore – best to wait for Secretary of State

Lots more questions about this, I’m not writing them down because the answer is always “wait for the Secretary’s response” or a variation thereof.

6:20 – Goggins – would like to take up a vote about whether they can require observers to take up their names at the next meeting.

[In the opinion of this blogger, that is kind of crazy talk]

I have no idea what is going on right now, sorry.  They’re moving something and I have no idea what it is.

6:23 – Item 6c – clarification of rules and regulations.  If person needs to go to different polling location, they should have been provided provisional ballot rather than being sent back to other place.

Meduna requires that poll workers ascertain if they are listed somewhere else, and redirect them to the correct polling place.  If inactive and address changes, the person should sign the form and get a regular ballot.

Only in case where voter feels prior to deadline they filed an address change (administrative error), voter should be provided provisional ballot.

Someone asks if there’s a time when public can speak.  No.

6e – mandatory training of police.  In-service is scheduled four times a year.  September 5 was fall in-service, so will hold in-depth training last week in October.

6f – discussion of ways to improve communication regarding inactive status and correcting before election.

6:30 – City Clerk says they have looked at options.  Asked technical services department to update where do I vote button – as of today, if someone accessed the site, it will generate a form that can be printed, mailed, and re-activate voters.

They have completed the three-year contract with vendor that does street listing mailing.

So they would need to hire a mail-order house to create mailer.  This would take a while

Deadline is OCTOBER 17 to adjust your voting address, etc.

Clerk – they have literally thousands of new voter registrations and changes.  Two people in the office.  To generate thousands of cards and have them come in past deadline will not help.

Mohieldin – asks if this can be on the main city page.

Meduna – it is on the main page, instead of postcard mailer – perhaps they can design a single postcard type to handle this.

6:47 – discussion of staffing.  Demands on staff at city hall are well-demonstrated.  Two full-time staff people.  A few years ago, when we were in the depths of the most recent recession, the office was cut.  Need to be reinstated.  Administration is extremely careful in restoring positions, but need two mid-level positions added.  asap.

6:48 – thanks the support of the commission in supporting their requests.  City of Springfield has 19.5 FTE employees; Worcester has 12 (one on long term leave).

6:50 – beautiful warming up of musical instruments from across the hall at School Committee.

Applause from the crowd as the commission asks for that.

6:51 – Discussion of election-day activities.  Clerk’s office staff has general training to handle calls/questions.  Getting to election day, using overtime to make sure everything is processed on time.

6:52 – Lapierre says Jack Stewart could be a resource.

Mohieldin – Hiring of additional (20) wardens and clerks to be present in election commission office and/or relieve or replace wardens as needed.  Can man phones, etc.

Clerk has a reserve list of workers, but many are not available in the future.

Lapierre makes a motion for 10, not 20.

Clerk – notes that functions on 2nd floor (besides election stuff) cannot be suspended.

10 additional wardens passes.

Discussion of police investigation into allegations.

Lapierre has asked if anyone has filed anything.

6:58 – he says there have been no affidavits filed.

Dube does not know of any formal charges, but complaints.

Lapierre asks if any wardens have complaints.

Yes, says Dube.

Who? – Lapierre

Lapierre asks if Rivera has submitted a list of six voters with her complaint.

They ask for the city solicitor to come back to the podium.

Lapierre asks definition of voter intimidation and what is required for pursuing charges.

Moore says he can look for six-person rule.

Moore says complaints of illegal activity at polling place can be brought to election commission at any time, and warden on election day.

7:01 – Moore – commission would be the place to start to determine what DID happen, and then refer to a law enforcement agency.

Winant says there have been no specific complaints.

[So — let me get this straight — testifying last time was not specific complaints – ? – !]

Goggins says there were significant things mentioned last time.  He doesn’t know if they should/should not be investigated.  Every time an issue has come before us, a lot more public participation in Election Commission meeting than in prior years.

(Various people asked out loud before what the heck went on last week when various folks said there were no specific complaints)

Goggins says there will be no problems this election and that things will be addressed swiftly.

Goggins – Rivera had “powerful testimony” and felt she was intimidated.  Not her vote, but felt she was pretty close to being intimidated.

Lapierre – how would we go about a criminal investigation?

Goggins – doesn’t the WPD have detectives?  AG?  State Police?  If we wanted to, we could always ask someone to investigate.

Lapierre – would like legal opinion on voter intimidation.

Winant – voter intimidation or intimidation by person at polling location?

[How come none of these people can pronounce “Sarai”?  It is getting really old, and it’s not Ser-ee.]

Mohieldin – move to next meeting.  Wants clarification of how.

Lapierre – create structured environment [sorry, he is not making much sense]

Lapierre – having 23 people testify are fine by me, but I want to make sure those people were involved in the incident.

Goggins – thinks we should welcome testimony from ANYBODY about voter intimidation.

Lapierre – but we’d have to schedule a meeting just for that.

[WTF]

Mohieldin – requests written testimony to present at next meeting.

[Why do they need to discuss their testimony again?  This is foolishness.]

Next meeting – October 11 at 6pm.

I think that is it.

Goggins asks for five people to be able to address the commission for 1 minute.  Lapierre says you can’t just limit to five.  Yes you can.  How about seven?  Sounds good.

Kevin Ksen is up first.  If you’re concerned about what happend at 50 Murray Ave, asks that next meeting be at 50 Murray Ave.

Goggins – appreciated but wants meetings televised and must have it here to have it televised.

Jim Savage – revised his comments from the last meeting.  He was there and did not hear one voter object.

Chris Robarge, ACLU – wants to understand why we need to provide additional testimony when those on all sides of the issue testified before.  Why should they come back again?

Mohieldin – have had quite an education in last week and a half, and are better prepared to ask questions in context of law what is allowed and what is not allowed.  Would be appreciative to get to very specific questions in the future.

Robarge hammers them on saying there were no complaints.

Goggins – concerned.  Dube – heard you and was concerned.

Lapierre – he’s also concerned.

Bonnie Johnson – has been unjustly accused of many misdeeds.  David Rushford exceeded and abused his authority.  He behaved in disorderly manner.  Filed report to WPD – he “threatened” her at last Monday’s meeting.  [Not sure how — she was in the gallery]

[Is this over a minute yet?]

Same old, same old.  Poll watcher walked around all day.  Meduna was too chummy with this poll watcher.  Everyone is against her.  He might have been with the ACLU — and he was definitely at Mary Keefe’s victory party.

She was scared and intimidated.  She took pictures of poll watcher violating the rules.

Goggins reminds her she had her minute.

[Will she submit her video or audio?]

Tina “Cupcake” Hood – felt observers need to know that they can and cannot do.

Goggins tells her she is the warden and is in charge of that polling place.  You need to know that you have a lot of authority to enforce rules.  If you see anything that is causing the disturbance…

Hood does not want to be accused of being partisan.

Clerk – wants to exhort wardens to be trained according to statue – DO NOT ATTEND TRAININGS CONDUCTED BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

“who have a different motivation that may be partisan” – whoa!

Ralph Perez feels disenfranchisement happened when majority-minority district was created in D15 and that there were people disenfranchised because they didn’t know of the change in polls.

Mohieldin was also redistricted and says she received three mailings about redistricting.

Clerk says they did twice as much as required.

Perez says 20 people he knows did not receive that information.  They were so upset they did not vote.

Perez – Several people did not receive their absentee ballot.

Meduna – says everyone who requested a ballot was sent one.  There was a specific case where they provided a certificate to a person to vote in person that day (who had previously requested an absentee ballot).  Any voter who says they did not receive one, they keep records in the office and they resend them twice — make every effort.

Ralph Perez asks that God bless Meduna.

Feels commission should adopt a rule that no councilor heavily help people at polls.  Conflict of interest.

Luz Vega – N2N – election day, she was getting out the vote on 50 Murray and Wellington because as soon as she got to table, she was asked for ID and ID had wrong address.  She was told to go to another place.  The person at city hall told her she SHOULD be at Murray Ave.  Isn’t sure why this wasn’t done by a poll worker.  Observer at polling place immediately challenged her vote.

Vega was told to leave the polling place because other people there spoke Spanish.  She asked the voter if she wanted help, she did, she helped.  The woman voted.  Felt observer was very persistent and there was a lot of commotion.

and we’re done!

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11 thoughts on “Election Commission Meeting Liveblog

  1. Monique Lemaire says:

    Many thanks Nicole providing this live blog. I was at the first Election Commission meeting after the primary, but couldn’t attend tonight so I’m grateful for the up-to-date report.

  2. Chris Robarge says:

    Thanks Nicole!

    The poll-watcher Bonnie mentioned was from the Voter Protection Network, but unlike her, the only wandering around he did in my presence at least was between the spot where he was directed to sit to observe 10-3 and outside.

    Wish they’d reminded Bonnie that it’s against city policy for observers to use their cell phones in the polling place, though!

  3. sgtsavage says:

    Chris- you ought to learn the laws before you inaccurately state that a cell phone can’t be used. The Cell phone that your ACLU buddy was using was for communication and that was what was prohibited not taking pictures with the cell phone. You were not there that long so perhaps you are right if you were only there 10 minutes. But he communicated on his phone all day and that was the pictures that Bonnie provided to the Election Commission.

  4. Chris Robarge says:

    It’s actually right in the polling place rules, Jim. You should read them for once. Bonnie was taking videos with her cell phone, which is not only against polling place rules but against the law as well.

    My “ACLU buddy” was a poll observer sent out from the Voter Protection Network. If he was using his phone for something that was prohibited, maybe you should’ve corrected that seeing as you’re a poll worker and all. You have taken every opportunity to testify that absolutely nothing happened at Murray Ave. up to this point, so it’s interesting that you bring this up for the first time now.

    I was actually there for nearly four hours. Your powers of observation are as terrible as your ability to keep your story straight.

    • Jim Savage says:

      Chris –
      I know my job. Perhaps all the hype that occurred was because you and your cohorts, ie, Kevin, wanted to be pictured as Knights riding in on their White Horses to find red herrings in the voting process when you ended up looking more like Don Quixote searching for something hard to find. I am glad that your eyes are so good to be able to see if a cell phone was taking pictures versus video. If it was so illegal then there was a policeman and a warden there who did nothing. Or else perhaps they realized what Bonnie may have done was not illegal. Phones are to be used to communicate within the polls but I am thankful that the City did not overstep its bounds as you urge. Boston police did on the same statute which you refer and it cost the city $170,000 to pay the one with the camera. Hopefully the ACLU/VPN is not urging Worcester to violate the law and spend our hard earned tax dollars paying for violations of human rights caused by your misinformation. Ms. Johnson did present to the Election Commission four photo’s of your man at the polls wandering around and talking on his phone in violation of rules that could be enforced. You sound paranoid in accusing the Republican poll watchers of seeking to prohibit people from voting. I don’t know why you have failed to produce one voter who said that happened. If I was a city leader, I would learn from this experience to not give any credence to VPN wild allegations. I have nothing to be ashamed of in the way I conducted myself as an election officer but it appears to me that you do and need to wash your faces to get rid of the egg on them. Jim

  5. sgtsavage says:

    First it was not the first time. You will note that the others at the polls were also concerned. My story is straight in that all voters got to vote despite the commotion that some were causing for a short period. lt is hard to follow what are the issues you are concerned. I though that the ACLU was there to protect all voters not to be involved in a partisan cause for one side. Maybe the ACLU and VPN are advocates for only one partisan side. I did read the rules and communicating with your cell phone was prohibited. Did you? The other part which the law was concerned about was the recording of the people’s names who checked in. When you are protecting the voter’s rights, it would behoove one not to break the guidelines. Thank goodness you were not inside the polls that long but may have been outside. I was not advised that you were an observer and if you were not then you should not have been inside. I did see you but not for that long. It was not my job to be the warden in that I was bust doing my job. Your Voter Protection Network poll watcher was obvious in his violations and it did upset other individuals that he could get by with such. Guess that the next time the rules will be much more clear.

  6. sgtsavage says:

    First it was not the first time. You will note that the others at the polls were also concerned. My story is straight in that all voters got to vote despite the commotion that some were causing for a short period. lt is hard to follow what are the issues you are concerned. I though that the ACLU was there to protect all voters not to be involved in a partisan cause for one side. Maybe the ACLU and VPN are advocates for only one partisan side. I did read the rules and communicating with your cell phone was prohibited. Did you? The other part which the law was concerned about was the recording of the people’s names who checked in. When you are protecting the voter’s rights, it would behoove one not to break the guidelines. Thank goodness you were not inside the polls that long but may have been outside. I was not advised that you were an observer and if you were not then you should not have been inside. I did see you but not for that long. It was not my job to be the warden in that I was busy doing my job. Your Voter Protection Network poll watcher was obvious in his violations and it did upset other individuals that he could get by with such. Guess that the next time the rules will be much more clear.

  7. Chris Robarge says:

    Yes, I read the rules. You should apparently re-read them. USING your cell phone in any way is prohibited by the city rules, and I personally saw Bonnie use hers to videotape voters at the check-in table, which is a violation of both city rules and state election law.

    ACLU is a non-partisan organization, as is the Voter Protection Network. We don’t endorse candidates and we don’t take sides based on politics. It’s hilarious that you’re making this about partisanship, though, because you are so obviously in bed with Activate Worcester and the Tea Party while you continue to work as an elections official supposedly representing not a group or your ideology, but the city of Worcester itself. I’m not sure how stupid you think I am, but I’m not so stupid that I am unaware of how your group is attempting to completely co-opt our elections process.

    I have yet to see one single official report of VPN observers breaking any rules, no matter how much you waffle or Tina Hood cries. Find me a voter, a single one, that we disenfranchised. Find me anyone who votes at Murray Ave. who was intimidated by my presence there.

    This hasn’t become an issue meriting multiple meetings and media attention because of something that Voter Protection Network observers did. It’s become an issue because you and your ilk apparently take great umbrage with certain people exercising their right to vote, and have decided to do whatever you all can to suppress their votes. We’re all having this conversation because Activate Worcester folks acted completely out of line, it’s that simple.

    You should be ashamed of yourself and your colleagues.

  8. Chris Robarge says:

    Last, you weren’t a warden and therefore what you knew of my presence or whether you approved of it is of no concern to me. The warden in 10-3 was well-aware I was there, and what I was doing.

    Again, learn your job from somewhere besides a tea party training, or just resign.

  9. Jim Savage says:

    Chris- You are a pretty one to urge anyone to resign- Perhaps you need some training offered by the Tea Party (which did not give me any training) since it is obvious you are so biased and mistaken. I am sorry that some of us upset your beautiful day when you failed to find any wrongs. I know my job and don’t need any misinformation from you like you gave to some city leaders of which 90% or more only got their misinformation from your crew. Perhaps all the hype that occurred was because you and your cohorts, ie, Kevin, wanted to be pictured as Knights riding in on their White Horses to find red herrings in the voting process when you ended up looking more like Don Quixote searching for something hard to find. I am glad that your eyes are so good to be able to see if a cell phone was taking pictures versus video. If it was so illegal then there was a policeman and a warden there who did nothing. Or else perhaps they realized what Bonnie may have done was not illegal. Phones are to be used to communicate within the polls but I am thankful that the City did not overstep its bounds as you urge. Boston police did on the same statute which you refer and it cost the city $170,000 to pay the one with the camera. Hopefully the ACLU/VPN is not urging Worcester to violate the law and spend our hard earned tax dollars paying for violations of human rights caused by your misinformation. Ms. Johnson did present to the Election Commission four photo’s of your man at the polls wandering around and talking on his phone in violation of rules that could be enforced. You sound paranoid in accusing the Republican poll watchers of seeking to prohibit people from voting. I don’t know why you have failed to produce one voter who said that happened. If I was a city leader, I would learn from this experience to not give any credence to VPN wild allegations. I have nothing to be ashamed of in the way I conducted myself as an election officer but it appears to me that you do and need to wash your faces to get rid of the egg on them. Take care and perhaps you will submit your name to be an election official after you get your training (which never hurts anyone to know more and is not limited to single sources).

  10. Jim Savage says:

    Correction to above: phones are NOT to be used in polling places

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