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guest columnist
Sue Bahren,

Orange County
Election Commissioner

This article originally appeared in The ECA Reporter, Volume Number 9, Issue Number 1, January 2001. Used by kind permission of the author.

On a brighter note, Orange County successfully counted 8,103 Absentee (all of them) and Affadavit Ballots on our new OptiScan Ballot Counter. The Commissioners from Orange are grateful to our County Executive and Legislature for granting approval for the purchase of this equipment. We had two close races in the County, and the candidates did not have to wait days to find out the absentee count; it was done in a matter of minutes. We hope that other counties can take advantage of this kind of Absentee balloting.


The Plight of the Election Commissioner

The 2000 General Election has brought to light the plight of the Election Commissioner. We (those of us that have been able to get home) have been watching with fascination the developments facing our Florida counterparts. It is troubling, however, to think that there are elected officials throughout the Nation who would condemn both elected and appointed Commissioners about policies and procedures that they have not even researched.

I was troubled to watch Congressman David Drier (R) CA - 8th CD on the Paula Zahn show on FOX News. He and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D) NY - 3rd CD were discussing the ballot counting in Florida and the "overseas" and military ballots. Congressman Nadler tried valiantly to defend us; however airtime constraints cut him off.

You will find following a letter that I sent to Congressman Drier that has not been responded to. It is my hope that more can be done to instill confidence in this process that I know my counterparts in New York State take very seriously.

Text of letter:

November 10, 2000
Congressman Dave Drier
28th Congressional District
Connon House Office Building
Room 237
Washington, DC 20515

Congressman Drier:

As 1st Vice President of the New York State Election Commissioners' Association, I am compelled to write to you concerning the statement you made last evening (November 9, 2000) on the FOX News Show, with Paula Zahn. You stated that New York State does not count their military adn overseas ballots. It is difficult for me to believe that a Congressman would make such a remark without stating the reasoning for that thought.

For your information, absentee vallots to Military and Special Voters are required to be mailed 52 days before an election. those ballots can be mailed back at any time following that date, but must be postmarked no later than the day before an election, to be received no later than 7 days following the election. let me assure you, Congressman Drier, that all ballots that meet those requirements are counted at the Orange County Board of Elections. I am further confident that all my fellow Commissioners in the remaining 51 counties, up to and including the Counties within the City of New York, also count Military and Special Federal Ballots that fit the proper requirements by law. We count all voters in New York, and every vote does indeed count.

As difficult as it is to get all eligible citizens to register to vote and to participate in the voting process, I find it incredible that a Congressman such as yourself would make a statement that was purely being used for political purposes. Your remark does a great disservice to New York's many voters currently in the service of this great country, and to its citizens presently living abroad. You have taken it upon yourself to question the integrity of the entire election process in New York State, which is just unacceptable to me. Further, your remark feeds any uneasiness a voter may already harbor concerning the electoral process.

It is my hope that you will learn more about the process of elections in all states so that your future statements concerning this process can be informative and accurate.


Susan Bahren
Commissioner of Elections
Orange County, New York

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