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LEGISLATURE STUFF - Counting on the Count

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

By Michael Ryan

CATSKILL - A fissure was revealed when the Greene County Legislature was visited by representatives of New York Citizens Audit, last week.

Lawmakers, at a County Services committee meeting, heard from  NYCA executive director Marly Hornick for what was listed on the agenda as a “brief presentation” that instead lasted roughly forty minutes.

Hornick, who also founded the group, was seeking support from the local legislature for a statewide scrutiny of voter registration rolls.

NYCA claims that an open-source audit of the 2020 State general election uncovered evidence of massive inaccuracies that violate both State and federal law, terming them a “dirty voter roll.”

“We are not saying these anomalies represent fraud. We are not saying that elections are per se invalid,” Hornick said.

“We are saying that these inaccuracies are inexplicable, not acceptable, and need to be investigated and explained one by one,” Hornick said.

Hornick cited multiple examples of what she suggested were questionable voter records, including a box on the rolls stating that identification was required to vote, next to a box stating identification was not verified.

“These are only four votes but these are four illegal votes in Greene County that counted in the vote for the 2022 election,” Hornick alleged.

There are also instances of people with seemingly fictitious names, people 118 years old and older voting, and a person being born in the same year they registered to vote, Hornick claimed.

While there are levels of acceptable inaccuracy built into such a large and ever-changing system, Hornick said, “we are saying New York needs to open the books to find out how the system is broken.

“We need to repair any gaps. Without confidence the voter rolls are clean…there is no need for anyone in New York State to trust the outcome of our elections,” Hornick said.

Greene County Board of Elections (Republican Party) commissioner Brent Bogardus did not share the same view, reading a letter sent by the State Board of Elections to the NY State Association of Counties.

“There isn’t a lot that Democrats and Republicans agree upon at the State level but they agree on this,” Bogardus said, noting the letter is signed by both co-executive directors at the State Board of Elections.

The letter states, “you have likely seen recent news coverage of a group of misinformed individuals purporting to have found major deficiencies in New York State's voter registration database.

“This group has alleged that countless fake voters have been inserted into the registration database in order to create invalid votes to sway elections. 

“They claim that no elections should be certified in New York State because of alleged counterfeit registrations and actions by those who run elections.

“Over the last year and a half, the group - New York Citizens Audit - has presented their fabricated claims throughout our state,” the letter states.

“More recently, they have brought their embellished and misleading reports before local Town Boards and County Legislatures requesting that these bodies take up resolutions to support their cause.

“The resolutions are framed around their ill-informed reports, misinterpreted passages of state and federal law and an allegation that the 2020 and 2022 elections were fraudulent.

“They represent, at best, an ignorance of the voter registration process in New York State, and, at worst, a willful disregard of basic fact.

“It is our hope that your organization can assist us in arming your members with information to help dispel these malicious claims,” the letter states.

Local lawmakers did not take a vote on the NYCA request for support. The issue is expected to arise again later this month or in March.

“I had a resolution ready to be introduced tonight,” legislature chairman Patrick Linger said in a followup phone interview, noting NYCA had contacted the county, requesting the opportunity to speak.

“I was asked by a majority of this board not to put it on the agenda yet, giving them time to look into this more deeply. There is a lot here if anybody looks at this objectively,” Linger said.

Responding to a question about the NYCA claims being directly connected to ongoing allegations that the 2020 Presidential election was riddled with fraud, Linger said, “this is not tied to any specific claim.

“It is tied to numbers that don’t jive with things like the number of voters who voted compared to the number of registered voters. It is a large number, a number that could impact a State election.

“Maybe there are easily explainable reasons for all of this. But what [Bogardus] said tonight is verbatim from the State. 

“He gave us nothing specifically about Greene County. If I had to vote on this today for our county, I would support it,” Linger said.

Lawmaker Daryl Legg (District 7, Hunter, Lexington & Halcott), expressed confidence in the county Board of Elections and the voting process. 

“I have all the faith in the world in our people, Democrats and Republicans,” Legg said. “If I ask them, ‘do we have a problem?’ and they say no, I have to stick with them.

“Is there going to be somebody out there trying to do something? Maybe. But the numbers [NYCA] were throwing out, they didn’t really have solid facts to say this is exactly what’s happening.

“It’s great to see that somebody has concerns, but people asking questions doesn’t mean there’s a problem. I don’t see the need for Greene County to do something like this at this time,” Legg said.

Greene County district attorney Joseph Stanzione, attending the session, said, “the integrity of our elections is a legitimate concern,” referencing a report from a neighboring county he said he would give to lawmakers.

Lawmaker Michael Bulich (District 1, Catskill), in a followup phone interview said, “I’ve got to get a look at the report [Stanzione] mentioned and call around to other people, but on face value this seems to have merit.

“There needs to start being no question about our elections on both sides. Otherwise this stuff is going to pull our country apart. 

“Let’s just say this was an interesting presentation. I don’t know what it is with government officials. If there are mistakes, nobody wants to admit it and say, ‘I‘m correcting it.’  We have to let the sunlight in,” Bulich said.

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