Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#MORE2016, UFT Elections - Questions Raised Re: Counting Process

Unity caucus won't try to steal an election until they have to - is 2016 the time?

Francesco Portelos has asked to be allowed to go with AAA reps to the post office and back today and to observe whatever takes place prior to the count tomorrow and Amy Arundel, head of the election committee has granted this access to MORE/NA and Solidarity for today at noon - my question to them would be - the AAA has been going to the post office to pick up ballots a few times a day for 3 weeks - anything that might have happened pretty much already happened.

By the way-- ballots can still be delivered to AAA up to tomorrow morning.

I have a haircut at noon today so I'll leave it to Portelos or any of the Solidarity people to supply the armed guard for the AAA. I'll get into some of their concerns below.

If you read my analysis yesterday (UFT Elections: Why Is This Election Different? Or is it?) you'll see that my predictions of a year ago that we can't win this election haven't changed very much. So at Thursday's vote count I don't expect any great surprises.

But there are always conspiracy theorists who believe there are shenanigans going on. After all, everyone they talk to are against Mulgrew so how can we lose? How many people have told me their entire school voted for MORE? They told me that last time too. The only explanation they have is that Unity and the American Arbitration Association have an "arrangement."

What of the AAA -- any scandal would ruin their business so any overt cheating would be so risky as to kill them. If it were discovered. I don't think they can afford to take the chance. But are there more subtle ways to cheat?

Let's examine this issue.

The UFT - which is Unity - hires the AAA - they are their bosses and the AAA has to cater to them in order to hold onto their contract. So there is an inherent conflict of interest. At the count Leroy Barr seems to play a dual role - as a Unity rep and as the UFT guy in charge -- the AAA guy goes to him for directions and certain decision making - I saw it - some consultations went on. But no signs of cheating. But ballot counting orgs have been guilty of cheating in the past and at some point if enough money changed hands and things could be covered up, I consider anything possible.

We have been able to observe the vote counts as they run through the machines.

But what happens from the time the mail is picked up until the outer envelopes are processed? Amy emailed me that they are processed and I asked for more info on what that means - like if processing means they outer ballots are opened? She told me they are not opened. So that means they are sorted into divisions - easy due to different colors.

But does processing also mean they the back with the names on them are scanned so the people who vote are checked off - and can't vote more than once? Or does all that take place tomorrow?
Last time I got there pretty early and envelopes were already opened so I was concerned.

So one concern is the tracking of who votes, the connections to their schools and whether there is any sorting going on around that issue as ballots come in over the 3 weeks. We know Unity has access to this info - are they being given info as results come in from AAA? That isn't illegal I guess since the group that hires the AAA has the right to data- but when the UFT is = to Unity then that is fuzzy.

So say after the first week Unity knows how many ballots are coming in from schools up to that point -- they can know to push their people harder in their schools. We have no way of knowing if there is a fire wall between AAA and Unity from the day they take charge - and what about backroom info passing from their longtime contacts at AAA?

Imagine the batch of ballots from Francis Lewis HS - I mailed 125 at one time. Now if someone had access to these ballots theoretically, knowing they were from a school most likely to vote for MORE, some pruning of ballots could take place.

Now do I think this is happening? No. This would totally destroy the AAA business if discovered and there is no chance they would do this - unless Unity has some access.

The only way to kill rumors they might be happening is for us to be able to spot check the list of who voted and from what schools. But I would want to know if there are updates given to Unity as the election proceeds.

Portelos is concerned that since his caucus does not appear on the front page, his only votes can come from people who send in the entire booklet, which can be judged by the envelope weight. The conspiracy would be for the heavier envelopes to be dumped.

One way to check is to compare percentage of booklets/vs slate sheet only returned to past elections. I expect due to this situation there will be a higher number of booklets returned than in the past. I saw a lot of people at Francis Lewis who voted MORE return their booklets. I bet lots of Unity people may have done so too.
This year's change is that if someone marks a slate and votes inside the booklet  the ballot is not invalidated - the slate takes priority - but the booklet has to be opened, pulled apart and scanned - which takes hours. Last time they weren't even finished when we left to go to the MORE party. These booklet votes are not game changers and when we tabulate votes we ignore them as a factor.

Would Unity Caucus ever play dirty in elections? You bet they would. We have seen them play dirty in chapter elections where an opposition person was running against a Unity slug, even in one case, having the school administration trump up charges against an ICE person running for Chapter Leader and putting him in the rubber room just 2 weeks before the election --he ran his campaign from the rubber room and got almost 40% of the vote - 6 months later he was exonerated but the retaliation against him killed his career and he took early retirement. In other cases the borough office threw out the winning ballot of an ICE CL to force another election and managed to run the election in a way that the ICE candidate couldn't campaign. Just a few war stories.

But the major elections? Any signs in the past of cheating.

Faced with possibly losing an election, they would do anything to hold onto power. And would be backed by all the powers that be - including the courts. After all, when Mike Shulman beat their HS VP candidate in 1985 Unity had the nerve to go to court to challenge it and prevent Shulman from being seated. The court actually ruled that another election had to be held -- which in itself was unbelievable. But that backfired and Shulman won the redo by a greater margin. The problem was that Unity managed to disrupt his 2 year term and shrink it into just over a year, not giving him time to organize a base for the next election. The other members of the AdCom met secretly without him to shut him out. They swore this would never happen again and in 1994 changed the rules so that the high school teachers would never again elect a VP.

Since no one thinks they are in any danger of losing this election - correction - some people in Solidarity, after assuring supporters they will win, think the only way they can lose is if the election is stolen. So no matter what the results, they will create doubt about the outcome and people will be willing to believe them.

So they float conspiracy theories.

I believe there will be a day when Unity is facing a serious threat - and when that happens every ball will be in the air.

Well, off to get my hair cut. And tonight a 4 hour Shakespeare event based on the book :1599 by James Shapiro -- Julius Caesar - was one of them and what better way to prep for tomorrow's vote count than assassinations and conspiracies?


Harris L. said...

Francesco Portelos has a conspiracy theory? No, you're kidding me? Really? OMG....that Lincoln assassination thing, we better get back on that one.

Unknown said...

Norm, It's just like the Southern cities or counties with a white voting -- not necessarily population -- majority would have at-large seats for the councils or county commissioners instead of district voting that would allow some blacks to be elected. I below it was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that started to change that and the federal courts. Whatever did happen to that powerful law? That's right the Scalia Court trashed a major section of it. Now we're back to the good old days when state legislature, and not just in the South, can pass laws that basically deny the vote to many minorities, elderly, and even college students.

Unknown said...

What, no photo update post-haircut?

Anonymous said...

I stopped by Norm's house yesterday. It's a good haircut, no need for a picture. Pretty sure that it was Norm.... but, then again....!