By Sam Foster
We all knew it was bound to happen, but it looks like NY-25 is degrading into a whole new level of nasty.
Democrat Incumbent Dan Maffei is down 700 votes to Ann Marie Buerkle, so naturally, it's time for the Democrats to get down in the muck. YNN is reporting that Dan Maffei is actively contacting absentee voters in an effort to create a tally of how people voted ahead of the actual absentee count. Bill Carey of YNN was astounded by the effort, reporting that he'd never heard of a campaign using such tactics.
Ann Marie Buerkle points out that the purpose of this tactic could be used to disenfranchise absentee voters by disqualifying eligible ballots before they are even counted. Buerkle's campaign writes:
"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."
"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."
However, instead of being ashamed at the audacity of contacting voters and in effect, intimidating residents into revealing how they voted on a secret ballot, the Maffei campaign defends its disregard for voter rights.
"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."
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.
This reeks of desperation on Maffei's part and that could be positive or negative. Clearly, Maffei is very uncertain that he can prevail in the absentee vote count, which is a reasonable uncertainty for him. He needs to beat Ann Marie Buerkle by more than a 10 point margin district-wide just to erase her lead. This makes a win via judicial decision the most likely strategy Maffei has left.