The trial of former political consultant John Haggerty has brought to light many questions about the role of ballot security and so-called “poll watching.” NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
It is not unusual for candidates or political parties to send lawyers, volunteers and others aides to the polls on Election Day. They want to keep a close eye on voters and make sure no one is turned away for the wrong reasons.
“Everybody certainly has the right to have their people at the polls, whatever party is there, but it depends on the execution,” said Assemblyman Keith Wright.
Indeed, in the trial against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's former political consultant, John Haggerty, ballot security is being presented as something shady. Haggerty's lawyers are arguing that Bloomberg was attempting to hide the operation he planned for his 2009 reelection bid.
Four years earlier, the mayor's opponent, Democrat Fernando Ferrer, accused Bloomberg of trying to intimidate voters through his ballot security plan.
Veteran election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder said there is nothing wrong with poll watching.
“We want to make sure that nobody is stopped from voting because the lines are long or the machines are broken or if, in some circumstances, there are folks who are trying to stop them from voting,” said Goldfeder.
It’s clear from the 2005 mayor's race that not everyone feels the same way.
Minority communities in particular have been wary of so-called poll watching operations, fearing they may simply be an attempt to dissuade voters from casting ballots on Election Day.
“We're always on the lookout in this community for such behavior, and I think we know how to deal with it,” said Wright.
Bloomberg's aides have argued that the campaign was not attempting to hide anything. It did, however, pay for its 2009 poll watching operation through the state Independence Party, which means it was not listed as a campaign expense.
Haggerty is accused of stealing money earmarked for ballot security from Mayor Bloomberg.