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I voted in the New York Republican Primary for Governor this morning (June 28, 2022). I cast my ballot for Mr. Lee Zeldin to be the GOP nominee for Governor in the November election, as I suggested I would in a humorous article about the very expensive direct mail efforts that Mr. Zeldin’s rival, Mr. Harry Wilson, undertook to win my vote (he should have invested in a better SMS app instead). Before continuing, I must make clear that I went to vote on a single occasion and I cast a single ballot. Now, in light of the fact that a single registered voter is only allowed to vote once, you may wonder why I need to underscore that I only voted once. The reason, pictured below, is that I received two “I Voted!” stickers from election workers.

Two New York CIty "I Voted!" stickers from the June 2021 gubernatorial primary.

One man. One vote. Two “I Voted!” stickers.

What in the world is going on?

Allow me to explain.

I walked into my local voting place. After entering, I went to the table for my election and assembly district. I stood in line behind a young woman who was informed that she was not actually eligible to vote in either the Democrat or Republican primaries because she is not registered to vote for either party. While many states allow voters to vote in whichever party’s primary they happen to identify with for the purpose of that particular primary, New York restricts party primaries to registered party members. While there are many things that I do not like about New York elections – the State and City are correct in restricting primaries to registered party members. The woman was given the option of voting by affidavit, which she accepted. Her vote will never be counted, but maybe it is the thought that counts.

Before I continue with my own election story, I must note that I never understand how people – who go through the effort to vote in low turnout, low interest primaries (the result of the Democrat Governor primary is presumed to be a foregone conclusion this year, thus reducing interest in the race) – do not understand the requirements for voting in a party primary in New York. My specific confusion is that these people apparently care enough about local politics to show up for an election that many regular voters will ignore, but not enough to spend 5-10 minutes making sure they are actually allowed to vote in the primary in question.

Strange. But I digress. Back to me.

After undergoing New York’s very strict identity verification requirements – which involve stating one’s name and address and signing a tablet with a signature that no one will review – I was offered a Democrat primary ballot. However, while handing me the ballot, the election worker asked to make sure that I was a Democrat. I noted that I am a Republican and she kindly gave me the correct ballot. This is an improvement over the June 2021 Mayoral primary, wherein I was handed the wrong ballot without being asked, requiring me to advise the election workers about the ballot that I required and causing them to unwrap their stack of then-unused ballots.

Progress! But jokes aside, the election workers at my polling station were courteous and professional.

The election worker put my paper ballot in a manila folder. She also included an “I Voted!” sticker with the ballot. That was kind, but were we not jumping the gun? I had not actually voted yet. I only had a ballot. For all anyone knew, I could fill out my ballot and forget to scan it. Then I would have an “I Voted!” sticker without having voted. The horror!

But I digress again. I did vote.

I took my ballot to one of the many unfilled privacy booths. The number of unfilled privacy booths indicate that interest in the primary from Democrats (Republicans are scarce in my area) is very low. I did notice some campaign literature strewn about neighboring privacy booths. That is not legal! I made a note of that.

I filled out my very complicated ballot. While my Democratic neighbors had to vote for a number of races including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Assembly, local judgeships, and male and female county chairs (those positions cannot be long for the world at this rate), I was only asked to vote for one of the four candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor. I took about five seconds to carefully fill in the circle next to “Lee Zeldin” with an official New York election pen.

A New York City election pen overlaying two "I Voted!" stickers.
This is the official New York City election stylus pen. The stylus is used for pressing buttons and signing signatures on the tablets at the NYC election tables. There is a hole in the stylus that allows it to serve a second purpose as a roller-ball pen, which is used for filling in the paper ballot. This pen is from a previous election – New York gave the pens to voters to take in elections in 2020 and 2021. In today’s election, we were not given pens, so the pens were supposed to stay at the voting station. I did not take a pen, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will need extras.

Then I folded the folder over my ballot (sticker one was already in my pocket) and took it to the ballot scanning machine.

En route to the machine, I alerted an election worker to the fact that campaign literature for some of the Democrat candidates for various offices on their ballots was present in some of the privacy booths. She looked concerned thanked me for notifying her, and immediately went to remove the offending material. I will note that this violation was particularly concerning in light of the fact that most of the Democrat voters do not know candidates for offices outside of Governor (and perhaps, for engaged voters, Lieutenant Governor). Thus, having campaign material for a specific candidate in a race where the vast majority of voters do not know any of the candidates (or what the race is for) would present a serious and unfair advantage for the offending candidates. While I have no stake in the races in question, I was glad to see the election worker treat the issue with the seriousness it deserved.

In previous elections, there was an election worker present at the scanning machines to assist people with scanning their ballots. Today, no one proactively offered me assistance, although there was an election worker present to do so for voters who needed help. Scanning ballots is easy, however, so I pulled my ballot out of the envelope, slid it into the machine, and watched it disappear. Maybe it will be counted.

But who cares about actually casting a vote? Where did the second sticker come from?

I noted previously that there was an election worker by the voting machines. I handed the gentleman my folder (they do not let us keep the folder). He took the folder and handed me an “I Voted!” sticker. It occurred to me as I walked out of the polling location that I now had two “I Voted!” stickers despite being one man who cast one vote on one ballot.

Is this voting sticker fraud? Did they not coordinate the voter sticker system? Something crazy is going on.

New Yorkers often like to wear their “I Voted!” stickers – often for months after an election. I will concede that I am sometimes a bit concerned when I see an “I Voted!” sticker on someone’s clothing months after an election. But that is neither here nor there. I keep my stickers, but I do not wear my stickers. I am not a big sticker-wearing kind of online writing magazine editor and website admin. But when I came away from my single voting trip with two stickers, I knew that I had gained something unexpected for the trouble.

Something unexpected besides an extra “I Voted!” sticker.

A New Leaf Journal article topic.