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Bayville Residents Are Great Spellers: ‘Harry E. Pinkerton III’ Was A Breeze

Write-in candidate garners top number in board trustee vote

Lines were moving slowly at the Tuesday, June 19 village election held in the Bayville firehouse. Election inspector/official Richard Goldman said, “It’s been like this all day. We should have this in the national elections.”

Mr. Goldman said he and the other election inspectors were selected from a list provided by the Nassau County Board of Election (NCBOE).

The NCBOE provides the list and the machines but the village itself runs the election and sets the rules.

This year besides the candidates on the ballot, who were three incumbents and the village attorney, there were two write-in candidates challenging the system. The system itself appeared challenging as voters had to learn more about the lever machines and how to cast a write-in vote than most had known before.

After the voting numbers were announced it was apparent that at least 527 voters had taken the time to find the little slot at the top of the machine, push it up and write in the name of the candidate of their choice, which in this case was usually Harry E. Pinkerton III. There actually was a second slot to find for another write-in candidate, but this time the slot had to be pushed to the right to allow a second write-in vote. It was a small space and Carla Panetta said people were concerned that if they left the “D” off of Marchand – the vote might be discounted.  Still, there were 253 voters who went to the trouble to find that slot and Bayville Deputy Village Clerk/Treasurer  Chris Vivona said to his knowledge no vote was excluded from the final count.

In The Pink

Trustee elect, Harry E. Pinkerton III said of the voting process, “The Bayville community made a fantastic turn out and I thank them all for their support. It was a thrill seeing all the pink sheets and pens going into the Fire House.” Mr. Pinkerton said the credit for the colorful idea came from his campaign committee, “PINK for PINKERTON.” They include, “Carla Panetta, Susan Holifield, Cathy Maywald, Joe Russo and my wife Celeste —  did it all: pink sheets, pink name cards, pink signs etc. And, it really worked.

“What a great village to live in! I hope you’re going to call your article ‘the hanging chads of Bayville.’   

“It was a great thrill to win, but a very frustrating day for voters who were turned away in the morning because of broken machines and then in the evening rush with machines having a paper problem. There were many questions on doing the write-in vote. It was not at all that easy to do. It wasn’t fair to the candidates or the voters, but I’m not complaining, I won.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity of serving the community. A special thanks goes to all those volunteers who spent the full day  explaining how to do a write-in vote, that team was the key to my success,” said Mr. Pinkerton.

The Voting Process

Marie Alfano-Hardy, Bayville Village Clerk was the woman in charge of the election process. It was to her that the NCBOE told people to go to for answers to questions about the rules.

One resident demonstrated his frustration with the process. He walked up to a the registration table and asked for voting information and was given a print out of the ballot showing what the election machine offered. He looked at it disdainfully and said — this isn’t what my choices are — and he crumpled up the paper to the dismay of election inspector Audrey Goldman who needed it to tally the votes. He was implying that there was no information on the write-in candidates.

Lots of Glitches

Bayville resident Joseph Russo explained what happened on Tuesday. Mr. Russo said, “When the polls opened at the Bayville firehouse at 6 a.m. the problems began. Most of the election inspectors where unfamiliar with the write-in procedures and as a result gave out incorrect information. One inspector said they had being doing this for years and never had been asked by a voter how to write-in a candidate’s  name.

“Questions for the village clerk did not clarify the matter. Calls to the NCBOE weren’t any help either. Within a few hours one of the voting machines stopped working and voters were told to come back later (they should have been offered to use emergency ballots immediately) as calls to the NCBOE determined.

“About 20 minutes later a second machine failed, calls to the NCBOE resulted in a tech team being dispatched and within the hour both machines were up and operational.

“How many of the voters were able to come back will never be known. Later in the afternoon a machine failed to record write-in votes and election inspectors were heard asking voters if they planned to write-in maybe they could use another machine (the result of this is in question, since some said they were turned away from the machine they were sent to) and ballot voters were allowed to use the machine. By evening three machines had write-in roll problems that were finally resolved after more calls to the NCBOE.

“During the day several calls where made to the village clerk by concerned voters but they went to voice mail only — the first call around 6 a.m. was answered directly.

“One voter wrote a letter to the village clerk, upset at the fact that while registering she heard an election inspector referring to the male write-in candidate as a ‘trouble maker’, when she asked who they were referring to they made a joke about it.

“Several voters were given incorrect instructions like one early voter being told that since the space in the second write-in box was small it would be okay to just write the candidates last name. One voter was denied a vote (she was incorrectly removed from the [Nassau County] voting/signature book) and denied the opportunity to vote.

“The write-in candidate supporters hosted a public service booth outside the 100 foot marker [away from the polls] and over 250 people came for instructions, several others stopped by after they voted to see if they voted correctly and in some cases discovered they either did not or were given the wrong information by the inspectors,” stated Mr. Russo.

The back story is that the election petitions of Harry E. Pinkerton III and Margaret Marchand, two independent candidates for the board, were denied the opportunity of being on the ballot through a legislative process – questioning details of the petitions in which “Bayville,” their village was written in, instead of “Oyster Bay,” their town. Mr. Pinkerton immediately decided to become a write-in candidate. Ms. Marchand originally chose to support Mr. Pinkerton in his efforts but decided 48 hours before the election that she too would run for the board and handed out campaign literature. Her efforts garnered her 253 votes.

A Poll Watcher

This reporter arrived at the Bayville Firehouse at around 8:30 p.m. to wait for the election results. Five machines were being used. There were a great many people waiting to vote. When 9 a.m. arrived, the doors were locked and only those remaining in the room could vote. Then the counting began. The lever machines were closed down and the numbers were read off the back of the machine. Next the inspectors returned to the tables and opened the absentee ballots. They called out the results although the name of the voter was never voiced, just the vote, for example, 1A, 3A, 5A, 7A.

After the absentee votes were counted the election officials began taking out the rolls of white paper on which the write-in candidate’s names were written.

This reporter – interested in documenting the process - was not allowed to photograph the rolls when they were open, but Ms. Alfano allowed a photograph of the workers and the closed roll of paper.

When the paper rolls were opened, the election clerks pored over the names, one calling them out and another keeping count. Standing next to the table it was easy to hear the votes. Mr. Goldman was calling out the write-in names to his crew. He said, “Harry, Margaret Marchand, Harry, Harry, Harry.” Someone questioned that he was just saying “Harry” and he cleared that up saying, “Yes, yes, they say Harry E. Pinkerton III,” he answered smoothly, without skipping a beat.

After counting all the names, the sheets were rolled up, and marked with the table number. All the election officials knew “the drill” and after they had completed their official work, they placed their badges into manila folders that were collected by Ms. Alfano. As they left the room and were walking down the stairs one commented on the write-in votes, saying she was familiar with them. She added, “I’ve never seen as many write-in votes. They are usually only a handful of votes. There was a very good turnout for the candidates that weren’t on the ballot.”

Still the results had not been announced and when asked if the results would be given, Ms. Alfano said they were taking the paper rolls and the machine and absentee ballot results to the village hall where the trustees would get the information first, and then announce the results. No reporter had ever attended the event, she said, adding that she regularly called Newsday and other newspapers with the results.

Later that evening, Deputy Village Clerk Chris Vivona called this reporter with the results. He read off the incumbents first: Tim Fay  – 477, Kate Naughton  – 460, Peter Valsecchi, Jr. – 471, Village Justice Anthony D. Perri  — 572. He followed with the write-in candidates: Harry E. Pinkerton III – 527, Margaret Marchand – 253, Victoria Siegel – 1, Rocco Ranaldo – 1, Joseph Russo — 2.

The induction of the newly elected officials will take place the first meeting in July at the Bayville Village Hall.