Julie Denny’s Letter Regarding Election Law Violations During The Special Election Of The Oneida Judiciary

Oneida Enrollments Dept. election observer Julie Denny wrote the following regarding violations of the Oneida Election Law during the September 2014 Special Election of the Oneida Judiciary in a letter to Oneida Business Committee Chair Tina Danforth, OBC Vice-Chair Melinda J. Danforth, OBC Secretary Lisa Summers, Election Board Chair Michelle Doxtator and Election Board Vice-Chair Melinda K. Danforth:

I worked the Special Election on Saturday, Septermber 27, 2014 as a representative of the Oneida Enrollment Department. In all good conscience, I feel compelled to report this election did not follow established procedures according to the Election Law. It all started with the electronic ballot counting machine. As I recall, someone on the election committee (I don’t recall who) asked if myself, Cynthia Nelson and Officer Lyle Metoxen could come into the voting area and validate that the box was empty.

I went outside as Officer Lyle Metoxen was in his squad car and I informed Lyle the Election Committee is requesting our presence to validate the election box is empty; Lyle looked at his watch and made the comment “this should have been done over an hour ago.”

The three of us proceeded into the voting area and here is my recollection:

1. It was approximately 8:03 am when I verified the electionic ballot counting machine was empty.

2. I can honestly say the ballot box was indeed empty.

3. The tape was presented for my signature. Never was I instructed by the Judge to review that ballot counting machine printer tape to see if had a zero total count, (this is cited in Section 2.9 Election Process, 2.9-3(a)). I never looked for that information on the tape as I didn’t know I had to.

4. Also, according to the Election Law in Section 2.9 Election Process, 2.9-3 that ballot box shall be prepared prior to 7am on the day of election.

5. Despite signing that ballot machine printer tape, I did not feel comfortable doing it simply because it was at least an hour after the polls had already been opened and numerous voters had already casted their votes.

6. I could verify the voting box was indeed empty but that leaves a question in my mind to where did the ballots go that were cast between 7am–8am?

I bring this to your attention because I believe processes were not followed and [there] needs to be accountability for such an important event.

Oneida Eye has been informed by Tribe members who voted between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. that they were told to place their ballots in an unsecured and unmarked file folder on top of the electronic ballot machine which was located in an unsupervised/unguarded room where no Oneida Election Board member nor Oneida Police Department officer were present, despite the fact that the Election Law requires both a locked ballot box when an electronic ballot counting machine is not available.

The Oneida Election Law states at 2.9-3 (a)

If a ballot counting machine is used, the ballot counting machine shall be prepared prior to 7:00 a.m. on the day of the election. The Judges shall open the polls only after four (4) Tribal members verify, through signature on the tape, the ballot box is empty and the ballot counting machine printer tape has a zero (0) total count.

The Oneida Election Law states at 2.9-4:

At least one (1) Oneida Police Officer shall be present during the time the polls are open, and until the counting of ballots is completed, and tentative results posted.

The Oneida Election Law states at Section B. Ballot Box, 2.9-9:

All ballots being votes, shall be placed in a receptacle clearly marked “Ballot Box” and shall be locked until counting at the close of polls. Provided that, with electronic ballot counting, the ballots may be placed within the ballot counting machine as they are received.

According to Julie Denny’s letter and the eyewitness accounts of voting Tribe members, none of that happened therefore the September 2014 Special Election of the Judiciary was conducted in violation of the Election Law.

The Oneida Election Law states at 2.8 Registration of VotersSection D. Qualifications/Verification of Voter Eligibility, 2.8-7:

Any voter denied eligibility shall be allowed to vote, provided that the ballot shall be placed in an envelope, initialed by two (2) Election Officials, sealed and numbered.

The Oneida Election Law also states at 2.9 Election ProcessSection D. Rejected Ballots, 2.9-13:

Rejected Ballots are to be placed in a specially marked container and sealed.

Then why weren’t ballots cast during 7 a.m. to at least 8 a.m. either placed in sealed envelopes and initialed by Election Officials or placed in the sealed container used for rejected ballots and were instead left in an unmarked, unsecured file folder in a room without any Election Officials or Oneida Police Dept. officer guarding the ballots?

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