Speculation of fraud and corrupt election related activity in the Ulster County District 12 raised red flags for Green Party members.
On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 28 at approximately 9:30 a.m. candidates for the county legislator, Glenn Geher and incumbent Republican legislator Kevin Roberts, attended a court case at the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston.
Petitioner and SUNY New Paltz Psychology Chair Geher, represented by Attorney Joseph Eriole, attended in the hopes of challenging absentee ballots that had been cast in the recent primary that took place on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Both Geher and Roberts had been running for the Green Party Line and when results for the four ballots placed in person on the day of the primary came in, the contenders were left with a tie. The vote ultimately was sought out to be determined by an absentee ballot, something that Geher would not stand by.
Because of this, Deputy Commissioner of Elections Ashley Dittus explained the ballots would remain closed until after the court case had been settled out.
According to Geher, with his initial interest in running on the line, he had checked the number of registrants in the Green Party. At the beginning of the summer, prior to his campaigning, the number was at 15 registrants. He also recognized that to receive permission to run for the Opportunity to Ballot (OTB), he would have to garner the signature of one pre-existing member of the party.
After receiving his OTB, Geher explains he began presenting himself to the voters.
“I began writing individual letters to everyone registered in the Green Party, presenting my values, explaining that I felt that because I am left-leaning, my stance aligned with that of the party,” he said.
It was on the morning of Sept. 7 Geher explains that suddenly, after checking in at the Board Of Elections, that the number of registered voters in the line, had more than doubled.
“I had went in that morning, with the intention of making sure I had all my bases covered, only to realize that I somehow missed these new voters,” Geher said.
In a statement released by Geher on Friday, Sept. 29, via his blog, Geher discusses the dubious odds revolving around the registration of so many new Green Party members.
“Based on my calculations, prior to then, only about 15 out of approximately 4,400 voters in the district naturally had chosen the Green Party as their affiliation,” he wrote.
When Geher figured the calculations, the number for just one person to register was below one; after multiplying that by the number of new registrants, the number continued to decrease in probability.
“It gave me a scientific notation which implied, in regular terms, that the odds by chance alone of this occurring would be incredibly close to zero,” Geher wrote.
Geher, after deciding that “it is what it is,” went to introduce himself to the new voters.
Because, with the exception of one, the new voters resided in the Modena Country Complex, Geher began going door-to-door to explain his platform.
“With knocking on the first door, I became enlightened to what had happened,” Geher said. “I was speaking to a voter who expressed that he identified liberally when I began discussing my values; the man had informed me that I had ‘been too late’ because he already ‘voted for the other guy.’”
Geher, not understanding, inquired further.
“I tried to explain that the primary hadn’t happened yet and he could still vote; this was when one of the people helping me run my campaign put two and two together—absentee ballots,” he explained.
It was soon after Geher’s team surveyed the majority of the Green Party voters in the complex, that they all had filled out applications for absentee voter ballots.
“The more I spoke to each of these new Green Party members, the more I learned; one made no indication that he didn’t plan on being around the day of the primary,” he said. “One of them even identified the person who helped him fill out the registration form by name, my opponent’s.”
Geher via Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), asked the BOE for this particular voter’s absentee ballot form. The form indicated that this individual would be “out of county” between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year. Geher’s conversation with the individual occurred Thursday, Sept. 7 in Ulster County.
Through his request to utilize FOIL, Geher was able to closely examine more applications.
With the exception of the signatures, the forms were filled out in the same handwriting, according to Geher.
“Each application claims that the voter will need an absentee ballot for the primary and general election—and in each case, the method for delivering that ballot was designated as to be picked up at the Board of Elections by our current legislator, Kevin Roberts; there were zero exceptions,” Geher explained.
Roberts later confirmed that the newly registered party members had designated him to deliver the ballots.
On the date of the primary, three of Geher’s campaign volunteers went to the complex once more to inform the Green Party members that by law, any vote they cast in person on the day of primary would supercede a vote cast in an absentee ballot.
When Geher’s team presented this case in front of a court, the judge informed Eriole that he would need to submit a brief that elaborated on the issues at hand. Eriole expressed that the team would need to summon the 12 voters in question to court.
Geher further explains his decision to drop the case in the courts in his blog post.
“Getting the Green Party line is really a detail, certainly not the primary goal of the campaign,” Geher wrote. “The goal of this campaign is, unequivocally and without any question whatsoever, to win.”
“I didn’t want to do this; I didn’t want to make this a hassle for anybody,” Geher continued. “I also couldn’t speak to the press, and that’s not what I want people need to know about this.”
By releasing this information to the public, rather than subjecting his voters to be subpoena’d, Geher is hopeful in his decision to be honest and truthful with what took place.
“What transpired regarding the Green Party Primary of Ulster County District 12 simply is too important to hide from the voters,” he said. “To my mind, this story reveals a great deal and needs to be known so that the voters in the general election, Nov. 7, can make the most informed decision possible.”
Roberts expressed his disappointment in Geher’s actions to challenge the ballots.
“The end results were tied up so we defaulted to the twelve absentee ballot votes and my opponent challenged them,” Roberts explained. “As a candidate, I’m shocked and appalled that another candidate would go as far as holding back votes; the other side went and harassed these new voters.”
The sequence of events that took place after the results had been placed did not surprise Roberts.
“The Democrats of Plattekill have a history of playing dirty,” he said.
Roberts explained that while he received a summons he knew the case was imminent when they opened the ballot. After Geher dropped the case, the absentee ballots were taken into account and Roberts was awarded the Green Party Line position to go on in the general election that will take place Tuesday, Nov. 7.