Happy Primary Day

For most candidates and their supporters, it will be a happy day as their efforts reach their climax. Once the polls close, that sense of purpose, determination and exhaustion-driven excitement will fade for the losers. For some of the winners, party nomination is tantamount to election. Others will just mark this as round 1 and start to gear up for November.

For one small group, the 9PM closing time will mean that their work just begins. This is the small group of election lawyers and operatives who will scrutinize the vote for irregularities in the hopes that an adverse outcome can be challenged in court and a new primary election ordered (do-overs are not allowed in general elections).

Today marked the inauguration of a new paper ballot/scanner system in New York City.  Widely used around the country, it involves the voter marking an oval next to their preferred candidates names and then feeding the sheet into a scanner which keeps running totals.

Others have already written about the cramped layout and small print size. I certainly found the ballot hard to read and as a former Brooklyn Democratic Party Law Committee Chair, as well as a former candidate for public office, I have more than passing experience with the mechanics of voting. I also was extremely uncomfortable with the prospect of the helpful Board f Elections workers possibly getting a glimpse of who I had voted for as she helped me feed the ballot in and had it pop out somewhere in the back. Said election lawyers above will undoubtedly be all over these issues.

Here’s one more for them. At the top of the three voting columns in my area were headings identifying the offices below as either Public Offices (such as Attorney General or US Senator) or Party Positions (such as Delegate to the Judicial Convention). The middle column was headed Public Office but also included the position of State Committee Member. This is, however, a party position, not a public one (See Election Law 2-100pdf.). Might an entire election be challenged over this? Possibly, but only if one were to argue that it caused voter confusion sufficient to have affected the outcome.


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