Big Brother Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) is having his campaign staffers call absentee voters in New York’s 25th Congressional District. Ann Marie Buerkle leads Maffei by about 700 votes, and now his campaign is calling and asking people who they voted for. This is unprecedented. Ann Marie Buerkle issued the following statement:
It has recently come to my attention that there are efforts underway in Upstate New York to contact individuals who cast absentee ballots in the 25th Congressional District and inquire how they may have voted in the recent election. It is regrettable that this action is underway prior to those absentee votes being tabulated by county election officials. While the reasons for this effort are unclear – many agree it could be an attempt by some to identify who each person voted for in an effort to disqualify certain eligible ballots from being counted. I would like the public to know that my campaign is not connected to this current effort. Further, no American – in Upstate New York or anywhere – is in anyway under obligation to provide information to anyone on how he or she voted in any election, including my own.”“This Thursday is Veteran’s Day, and as Americans we will pause to honor all of our veterans who have sacrificed so much to protect the rights of all Americans. It is disappointing that such an activity would be underway at the same time our men and women in uniform are serving overseas to protect these very freedoms.”
“If anyone is contacted in this effort please know that your vote is privileged, and under no circumstances should an individual be pressured in to revealing how their vote was cast. If you are contacted, ask them to provide their full name, for whom they work, why they are seeking this information and if you are required to provide this information.”
YNN reported that they’ve never seen anything like this before.
I’ve never heard of such a thing before. YNN’s Bill Carey, a veteran political reporter from the Syracuse area who’s covering the race, hasn’t either.UPDATE1: According to Carey, the Republicans are insisting the Democrats are solely responsible for this, while the Democrats say both parties are doing it.
UPDATE2: Carey just forwarded the following statement from Maffei’s campaign:
“In an election as close as this, it is more important than ever to ensure the integrity of the process. As we continue to gather information, we have discovered some possible inconsistencies in the election night reporting in addition to some absentee voters who may have been deceased.”
“We will turn over any information we discover to the Board of Elections for further review and our efforts are ongoing.”
I wonder how many voters who voted for Maffei wish they could take it back now. This smacks of desperation.
The Buerkle campaign had more to say, via National Review Online:
Despite being outspent by a margin of 4-1, Ann Marie Buerkle is now leading by 684 votes. There are currently less than 9,000 returned absentee ballots for the 25th District of NY.
We are confident that when the process is finished and all of the eligible ballots are counted, Ann Marie will have won the seat. Of the 8,462 returned ballots, registered Republicans returned 3,870 absentee ballots to 2,801 Democrats. The number of Republicans who returned absentee ballots exceeds Democrats in all four counties. In Onondaga County (Syracuse) nearly 500 more Republicans returned ballots than Democrats.
The counting of the absentee ballots will be staggered over the next two weeks. Not surprisingly, the Maffei campaign has already filed legal proceedings against the four county boards of elections claiming voting irregularities. The objective is to delay and obstruct the process in order to disenfranchise voters who voted for Ann Marie.
We are currently trying to raise money for the anticipated recount.
Also, a judge has impounded the ballots, and now it will probably be at least another week before they start counting. Good Lord, what will Maffei do next – send his goons door to door?
Update: A friend told me that someone in the district did have people show up at the door asking how he voted. He said “none of your business” and closed the door, so it wasn’t verified who the people were working for. Anyone dare to render a guess?
Update 2: Sam Foster has a theory about why Maffei has stooped this low.
There are a number of issues here. Let’s begin with the obvious. It is completely out of line for a congressman to be asking people how they voted before their ballots are even counted. While it may be a form of soft intimidation, Maffei is using an office of power to disenfranchise voters. What YNN missed in all their reporting was the point of all of this chicanery; to create an atmosphere of uncertainty so that Maffei can acheive through legal fiat, what he couldn’t do at the ballot box. He wants to create as many possible objections to the election results as possible, thereby increasing the sheer number of legal issues to be argued in court, thus increasing his likelihood of stealing the election through judicial activism.
Sounds plausible. Why else would he do it?
Update 3: Earlier News Channel 9 reported that officials at the local Board of Elections office could not recall any prior campaign calling and polling absentee voters before the votes were counted. See video below.
Update 4: CNY Central reported that an election official was puzzled by this odd development.
Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggins Walsh says the survey is extremely unusual.
“I’m guessing they are trying to figure out where they stand or someone’s planning a challenge,” Kiggins Walsh said. “That’s the only two reasons I could see to contact anyone.”
It’s pretty clear where Maffei stands.