New York

Hero of the Homeland


Here’s the story of a hero. Her name if Faryl. She was one of the Democrats who rushed to the secret meeting Republicans called at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, the one where they called in order to cheat: to credential a slew of “special inspectors” to stymie Democratic voters in case the courts struck down the presence of partisan vote challengers, the people they were counting on to “challenge” anyone who they claimed–most of their claims have turned out to be fantasy–don’t live where the voting rolls say they do.

To recap the story: when, in the middle of that meeting, the Appeals Court ruling came in, declaring that such challengers would be allowed (this after a labyrinthine back-and-forth court battle) most Democrats left, presuming the credentialling of “special inspectors” to be moot, but then Republicans, and only Republicans, were instructed by Board of Elections head Michael Vu to stick around and were dispatched as vote-suppressors anyway.

But the hero of this story, Faryl, stayed at the meeting, too, and got credentialled herself as a special inspector.

Complicated stuff. But that was how she ended up here, at Caledonia School, doing everything she could within her power to help quell the outbreaks of frustration that occur, at regular intervals, when folks’ names don’t appear on the rolls, adding a little extra oomph to Democratic efforts to keep this election fair.

Faryl springs into action: she calls the Board of Elections, and she finds most often that the people are in fact registered and have showed up exactly where they’re supposed to. She helps them fill in their provisional ballots–which was how news of a bit of trouble came my way.

Not sure how much to make of it, whether it’s just the chaos of an unprecedentedly active election night (“the Internets are breaking,” blogger Atrios japed, as posts show on readers’ screens hours after bloggers post them) or something more sinister. But here’s the deal: poll workers are supposed to sign and sticker each provisional ballot, but most of the morning they didn’t have any stickers to put on them. They weren’t in the packets they received. The previous night, in fact, someone called the Board of Elections and was told that stickers wouldn’t be used. But later she heard that they were supposed to use stickers–and then got hold of some.

“But things have been changing so quickly it got very confusing,” Faryl laments.

She does her best.

The poll workers love her. “No one knows whether they’re in precinct H or L, so I’m helping them.” A woman who lives at two different addresses (and, incongruously–she seems a bit eccentric–simultaneously wears two different pairs of glasses) isn’t on the list where she thinks she’s supposed to be. She gets a little agitated. “She’s trying to pull some funny stuff,” she says of the poll official, glowering. Faryl calms her down, and, heroically alert, snatches the provision ballot she’s about to fill out from her hands. If she fills it out, then finds her address on the rolls elsewhere, the provision might not count at all.

That fire extinguished, Faryl rounds up the next gaggle of confused voters for the next call to the Board of Elections. Then she learns that journalists are supposed to stay 100 feet away from the polls, and politely kicks me out.

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