By Founder Anthony Rivieccio
Two weeks ago, on Election day, I worked as a pollwatcher, for an assembly candidate running for office. My paid job, in a nutshell , was to go into neighborhood polling sites and look at “the total vote numbers” every few hours.
In every neighborhood poll site I went into, I saw the poll site coordinators, the poll workers and on occasion, the local male district leader. Before going into pollsites, as with everyone that day, I had to get my tempature taken, via COVID precautions.
Everything went along fine, from 6am that day till 6pm that evening (the polls closed at 9pm)
Around 630pm, I attempted to go into a polling site within MS80 and was told by the BOE coordinator there that I could not go in “because she was ordered by the Board Of Elections ( BOE) not to let me in because I have covid”.
Despite both my surprise and shock, I just left and went to my next polling site at PS56, where I was told the same exact thing, by another BOE coordinator. Now being denied access at 2 polling sites by 2 coordinators, I notified my boss that day and he told me to come back to the office.
I found out around 7pm that the District Leader of the neighborhood, Marcos Sierra, just put out a “Facebook” post where he claimed that not only was I denied access from 2 sites but that if anyone sees me enter any other site that I should not be let in.
Now, I found this confusing for a number of reasons: Firstly to the best of my knowledge while I know Mr Sierra was supporting candidate Nathalia Fernandez (our oppanent) on the ballot that evening, he was not ( to the best of my knowledge) working on her campaign that night.
He was not a BOE employee, formally being fired from the organization 2 years ago, although were sure he still has “friends”. But how was it that he was able to get” misinformation” from the BOE so quickly that not only would 2 Seperate coordinators take the same action- but that he would also recommend to other coordinators ,even police, to not let me in future pollsites that evening? Did the DOE make it up? Did Mr Sierra make it up? Was it collusion?
The next day in the morning, I went to the BOE headquarters to file a complaint and investigation. How could the BOE make that kind of order with no medical documentation to do so?. On Mr Sierra’s post, he claims that “I said it”.
That definitely makes so sense, as why would I deny myself, both the right to make money and the right to vote? Who would have the best advantage of me not going into polling sites? My opponent, Nathalia Fernandez and her party team which would include Mr Sierra.
The following day, I decided to take a covid test at North Central Hospital. The test , a few days later, came out, negative.
So being disgusted, I asked Dylan, the chief of staff to Ms Fernandez, to schedule a meeting with me to discuss this outcome. For two weeks now, I have received the run-around.
I have asked the BOE what is “going on” with my complaint but they have informed me that they will not be able to finish it until after certification of elections in early December, as they finish counting absentee ballots.
I went to Bronx Democratic party Chairman Jamall Bailey with my concern and he assigned his chief of staff “Jason” to assist.
He stated to me that “As the new County Chair, there are 72 people trying to meet with him also and he’ll do the best he can to schedule an appointment”.
Based on this experience, I believe “social media” and “rules of conduct” should be implemented for District Leaders at poll sites. Currently, according to Jason, there are no rules. While their job is to assist in the operation of the polling site process, they are not supposed to interfere in any capacity of that process.
Mr Sierra was seen throughout the course of the day in several of the polling sites that I went to visit and mentioned each time that his role their was as a District Leader.
So while my boss indeed paid me for the rest of the evening I was very upset , not just as my name went through the political mud with no recourse from; The Board of Elections , The Bronx County Chair, Assemblywoman Fernandez or the local District Leader, I am more upset that I was also denied my right to vote!.