There’s a mind-bogglingly clueless editorial from the Register-Star today, displaying a staggering degree of either bias or ignorance about the recent absentee ballot challenges. While making a few tepid stabs at appearing bipartisan in their criticism of how this was handled, its author appears to have either failed to follow the details of what transpired, or else has an axe to grind. Or both.
Here’s just a few of the many decisions and events the editorial appears to be willfully or negligently ignoring:
- Case law firmly upholds the right of a person with more than one house or apartment to choose where they vote. It does not have to be a “primary” home; it just has to be a home. This is settled law, no matter how many times GOP lawyers shop for a judge to try to get a different result.
- After hearing arguments from both the Columbia County Democrats and Republicans, the 3rd Department appellate court in Albany specifically cited (and thus reaffirmed) one such precedent, the 2008 “Willkie” case from Bovina, New York, in its ruling.
- Columbia County Supreme Court judge Jonathan Nichols—a Republican—likewise specifically noted the higher court’s citation of Willkie during the final days of proceedings.
- Judge Nichols likewise specifically noted that if the Republicans had a problem about anyone’s STAR exemptions or other benefits, that was a matter for the STAR board or other benefit agencies, not grounds for taking away their votes.
- Despite the Register’s suggestion that all parties were acting in good faith in this dispute, Judge Nichols clearly expressed his astonishment at the GOP’s conduct. For example, Republican attorney James Walsh was admonished in his court for misleadingly reading only a portion of an Election Law statute, leaving out the portion that didn't support Walsh’s position. (Note: This damning exchange was omitted from the Register’s report of the hearing.)
- Judge Nichols twice stated that the Republican position was “completely unconvincing” (remarks which the Register likewise erased from its news reports).
- Similarly, Judge Nichols expressed frustration that his repeated orders for the Republicans to produce specific objections to voters were repeatedly ignored. In many court observers’ view, the GOP operatives are fortunate not to have been found in contempt.
- A motion is pending calling for sanctions of the GOP for the manner in which they conducted these challenges.
- As far as any delays are concerned, the Register upbraids Democratic Commissioner Martin for standing firm for part of one day on the matter of how to proceed with the count. But the Register ignores that once that count began, the Republicans were not prepared to go forward, having not assembled their necessary documents, causing further delay—and then held up the counting of votes for over two months with ham-handed legal actions that proved completely pointless.
One wonders whether the Register’s editorial writer actually understood what transpired, or even followed its own reporting (which was itself often protective of the GOP’s increasingly embarrassing performances).
And this is not an isolated incident of the Register encouraging ignorance of the facts about the absentee voting issue; for example, the paper repeatedly published irresponsible letters expressing outrage that people were “voting twice,” even though that inflammatory charge was not raised in court against a single voter during the entire two-month proceeding.
But whether such editorials are the result of flagrant bias or just run-of-the-mill incompetence (again, or both) is ultimately of little import, as the resulting shoddy product is the same.