Advocates for election integrity and democracy are being shut out of a voting machine demonstration at New Beginnings Church in Wampsville. The daylong event, scheduled for Sept. 26, is being coordinated by the Madison County Board of Elections.
Dr. Wanda Warren Berry of Hamilton, a member of the grassroots group New Yorkers for Verified Voting, said she learned of the demonstrations when she was notified as a poll worker that elections staff may view the machines from 10 a.m. to noon that day.
Berry wrote to the county Board of Elections asking if NYVV could have a table at the demonstrations and Commissioner Lynne Jones replied that the space was only for vendors. Subsequently NYVV contacted the church to arrange to rent a room for the day in order to disseminate information on voting machines. Berry said church officials indicated there was space available and suggested that an application be submitted. NYVV contacted the League of Women Voters about co-sponsorship of the event and learned that the League could provide the needed liability insurance.
"I called the church in Wampsville [Sept. 8] and left a message to let them know the League of Women Voters would jointly sponsor us having a room Sept. 26 at the voting machine demonstrations," Berry said.
Berry called the church Sept. 11 to make sure her message had been received. After being transferred to several staff, she got a surprise.
"Pastor Ralph said he was just on the way to the post office to mail me a letter indicating all their rooms were booked for the day," Berry said. "I told him I was told two weeks ago the room was available. He said that in the interim 'the other group' had asked to use the whole building that day."
Berry said she believed it was a breakdown in communications that disallowed NYVV and the LWV from having a table at the event, but Lebanon Supervisor James Goldstein confronted Republican Elections Commissioner Lynne Jones at the Sept. 12 Board of Supervisors meeting, accusing her and Democratic Elections Commissioner Laura Costello of deliberately barring the groups from the building.