By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Well, call me an optimist, or whatever, but I always look for that odd chance that things can and do change on a dime. In this instance I’m talking about the recently held mayoral election which saw Bloomberg just barely squeak by Bill Thompson with a 4% or 5% margin (depending on who did the tally)

Well, speaking of tallies, according to the New York State Board of Elections, it ain’t over yet!. They have to go back and recount all the votes as well as tally the absentee ballots and affidavits. It is quite possible that this may well still be a Thompson victory.

According to a statement from the Board of Elections posted on the internet and duplicated below:

“The preliminary election “results” reported on election night are just that – preliminary. New York State Election Law requires a complete recanvass of all voting machines and the counting of all valid absentee, affidavit, and military ballots before the election results can be certified. The preliminary election results are produced by a combination of poll workers manually recording the results and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) collecting materials containing these results, compiling them, and entering the information into its computer system for tabulation.

After the polls close on election night, more than 30,000 poll workers transcribe the number of votes for each candidate from the face of the voting machines onto Return of Canvass forms. These poll workers then hand the Return of Canvass sheets to the NYPD Officer assigned to that polling location. The candidates and/or members of their respective campaigns are permitted by law to assign poll watchers to observe and record the preliminary results (see NYS Election Law, Section 9-126).

Once collected, the NYPD Officer delivers the Return of Canvass sheets to his or her police precinct to be transcribed into its computer system by civilian employees of the NYPD. The computer records are then transmitted to the Associated Press and a copy of each Return of Canvass form is delivered to its office at 55 Washington Street in Brooklyn. The Associated Press then shares the preliminary results with its colleagues in the news media. These preliminary results, however, do not include thousands of absentee, affidavit, and military ballots (see NYS Election Law, Section 9-102),

This to me means several things: those of us who have given up and thrown in the towel need to be making sure that Bill Thompson and his campaign team are still in the game and on hand for the recount and tally of the absentee ballots. Officially, they have two weeks to do the recount. The election happened last week, November 3, 2009. We are already rolling into one week and counting.

What needs to happen now, in addition to the recount, is the invoking of “if you see something, say something.” I.e., if you were at any of the polls and the machines weren’t working, if your name was not where you were registered and you had to go to another place to vote; if you completed an affidavit, and want to make sure it was counted, this is the time to speak up.

“New York State has one of the most meticulous recanvass procedures in the country. State Election Law requires all Board of Elections to recanvass every voting machine used within 15 days of the election. During this process, bipartisan teams of Board Employees record the results for tabulation. As an extra layer of oversight, representatives of all the campaigns are notified of the recanvass schedule and invited to monitor the official recanvass and ensure its accuracy. The absentee and affidavit ballots are then opened and tabulated after staff review. The campaigns are once again invited to monitor the opening and counting of these paper ballots (see NYS Election Law, Section 9-208).”

We know that in the past, certain communities, particularly in Harlem and parts of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, and other areas, had major problems with malfunctioning or frozen ballot boxes.

If you know of any problems that weren’t resolved by or before 9:00 pm of election day, or if you were told to come back and still were not able to vote, this is the time to speak up. Contact your Congresspeople, city council reps, lawyer, or anyone else who can intercede in your behalf in making sure your vote and your voice counts, and get that evidence and information to the Board of Elections immediately.

“Subsequent to the recanvass the Board certifies the election result pursuant to and in accordance with the procedures set forth in the applicable portions of New York State Election Law (see NYS Election Law, Sections 3-222, 9-200, 9-208). “

So, as they say in the New York State Lotto: “Hey! You never know.” In this day and age of Republican chicanery, it is incumbent on all of us, Democrats, Independents, whatever, to stay on top of things, and do our best to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Pass this on, and make sure you don’t break the chain of concern, information and action.

First contact Bill Thompson’s Headquarters by calling: 212-608-6555 or 212-669-1600; then contact the Board of Election by calling: (212) 487–5300 FAX (212) 487–5349; you can also go online and visit their website: www.vote.nyc.ny.us

It’s totally up to us to make sure that we’ve done all we can do to be counted. If it turns out that the margin was even narrower than originally projected; or that as a result of these additional ballots, Bill Thompson actually won, we’d look like a bunch of idiots to not have taken advantage of our rights to have every vote count.

Stay blessed,

Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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