Got the ballots
TO THE EDITOR: This past June, the state’s highest court dealt a heavy blow to election transparency.
For years, New Yorkers have been able to request, via the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), electronic copies of ballot scans from their local Board of Elections. These images have absolutely no voter-identifying information on them but are critical to assessing the performance and integrity of voting machines as well as for studying voting patterns.
Unlike paper ballots which must be held in a lockbox for two years, ballot images can be freely copied and shared without any risk of tampering.
In 2015, I requested the ballot images from the General Election, only to be rebuffed by Essex County, despite the fact they released them the year before. They claimed that Election Law 3-222, which governs "Preservation of ballots and records of voting machines" prohibits their release.
I sued and won at the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division levels, before the Court of Appeals, in a narrow 4-3 decision, saw fit to undermine public access to election data.
Despite Judge Fahey’s bold assertion at oral argument that “truth does not undermine anything,” he and three other members of the court held that finality of elections was more important than transparency. As a result, New Yorkers must now wait two years from an election to request the images, once the statute allows the paper ballots to be disclosed.
I finally have images, but it should never have taken this long to get them. It is incumbent upon the legislature to fix this grave error and restore public access to election results.
Stand and salute
TO THE EDITOR: I used to think I was a regular person, but I was born white, which now, whether I like it or not, makes me a racist and responsible for slavery.
I am a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today's standards, makes me a fascist because I plan and support myself.
I went to high school, worked through college, got a degree and have held a job. I am not here because I earned it, but because I was advantaged.
I am non-union, which makes me a traitor to the working class and ally of big business. I am not a Muslim, which now labels me as an infidel. I believe in the Second Amendment, which makes me a member of the vast NRA gun lobby.
I am older than 65, but not retired, making me a useless old man who doesn't understand Facebook. I think and I reason, so I doubt what main stream media tells me, which must make me a reactionary. I am proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture, making me a xenophobe.
I value my safety and that of my family, and I appreciate the police and the legal system, making me a right-wing, cop-loving extremist.
I believe in hard work, fair play, and fair compensation according to each individual's merits, which today makes me an anti-socialist. I believe our system guarantees freedom of effort, not freedom of outcome or subsidies, which must make me a borderline sociopath.
I believe in the defense and protection of America for and by all citizens, now making me a militant. I am proud of our flag, what it stands for, and the many who died to let it fly, so I stand and salute during our National Anthem, taking me back where I started, I must be a racist.
Please help me come to terms with the new me, because I'm just not sure who I am anymore.
I thank my friends for sticking with me through these abrupt, newfound changes to my thinking! I just can't imagine or understand what's happened to me so quickly. Funny, it all took place over the last seven or eight years.
If all this nonsense wasn't enough to deal with, now I don't even know which restroom to use, and I gotta go frequently.
MEL FRECHETTE, Commander, USN (Ret.)
People were honest
TO THE EDITOR: On Saturday evening we went shopping at Market 32 in Plattsburgh. I was carrying my iPad and broke my cardinal rule of never letting it leave my grasp by putting it in the shopping cart.
Sure enough, we put the cart into the collection area in the parking lot with my iPad in it. When we got home and I realized my mistake, we rushed back to Market 32 to search the carts with no luck.
As we were looking, the store manager called to say that he had my iPad because the man who brings in the carts, Jesse Baker, had found it and turned it in. I have a label inside the iPad cover with my name and phone number.
I am writing to offer my sincere thank you to Jesse Baker for being such an honest man. I spoke to him afterwards and he explained how good it makes him feel to do something nice like that. I hope the management at Market 32 recognizes Jesse for being such an asset to their store.
Chazy Lake great
TO THE EDITOR: One morning last week, we woke to discover our boat was gone. It had been a calm night, and we knew it was on the boat hoist at 8 p.m. the previous night.
We called neighbors, family, and friends on the lake to ask them if they could see it. No luck.
Then the Chazy Lake community went into action. Mark Denicore put out an email with a description of our boat and our phone number to everyone on the email lists of the two lake organizations, CLWI ( Chazy Lake Watershed Initiative) and CLEC (Chazy Lake Environmental Committee). He also put the information on Facebook.
Keith Trombly and Ken Emery went out in Keith's boat to start a search around the lake, law enforcement showed up in case it was stolen, people came by with their boats to help, and others called to see what they could do to help.
Our next door neighbor, Rich Brown, smartly started looking across the lake with his binoculars. We couldn't believe on such a calm night the boat would be on the other side of the lake.
Rich sighted it on the opposite shore south of us, and shortly after, Debbie Goslin called to say she could see the boat. Keith and Ken crossed the lake and towed the boat back. The troopers left once we found the boat, and an email was sent out and a note put on Facebook, letting everyone know it was found.
We could not believe the support given to us. Thank you to everyone who came over, called, and emailed us. What a great place to live.
ROD and CHRIS BIGELOW