Saratoga County Board of Elections has once again rejected a request for copies of the electronic ballots cast in November’s charter referendum that was defeated by 10 votes. In a May 25, 2018 letter from the county Board of Supervisors, the former chair of the now disbanded Charter Review Commission Bob Turner was informed that the request “is duplicative of your previous request, which (has) been fully settled.” Turner said the move by Board of Election Commissioners Roger Schiera (Republican) and William Fruci (Democrat) “undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. If the election was run properly, there is nothing to hide,” Turner said. The city’s charter-change advocates submitted a second Freedom of Information Law request after an April 12 ruling of 3-2 in Kosmider vs. Whitney in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. A panel of five judges ruled that electronic ballot images in this Essex County case can be accessed through a FOIL request. The Board of Supervisors in Essex County, the Sun Community News reported, has filed a paperwork reserving the right to appeal.
Therefore, the Saratoga County Board of Elections claimed in the letter, the potential appeal puts an “automatic stay” on the court decision. The county then reasoned it would keep the 8,906 votes cast hidden from public scrutiny.
“The Saratoga County Board of Elections did not audit the results of a single voting machine in Saratoga Springs in an election that was decided by 10 votes out of almost 9,000,” Turner said. “Transparency would affirm citizens’ right to know — how their democracy works, and whether it’s working as it should. Why not show the public the ballots?”