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Letter: Republican Exclusion

The Republican party has a well known problem connecting with minority voters. In light of that, I cannot think of anything more catastrophically stupid than a Republican official disenfranchising them. But that is exactly what the Manhasset Republican Committee, led by Donald O’Brien, has done. Every two years, each Election District (precinct) elects two Committeemen to the county Republican party. This is a formal election carried out by the Board of Elections. The newly elected members in a given area then meet to elect a “Leader.” The Manhasset area includes Spinney Hill, whose largely minority voters duly elected Samantha Jackson and me. However, O’Brien didn’t like the result. So he called an impromptu meeting to reelect himself and excluded us. His rationale was that our election was contested and the result was not “certified.” This is a clever ruse because the Board of Elections does not “certify” individual races, they certify the entire election. This applies specifically to unopposed races as well. O’Brien himself was not “certified.”

The result is that a group of largely minority voters cast official ballots, elected two representatives, who were then excluded from taking their posts. Indeed the salient part of voting is not the ability to cast a ballot, but to have it count. If a group elects a candidate who is then prohibited from representing them, the right to vote means nothing. You would think this kind of voter suppression couldn’t happen in Manhasset, that it was left behind in the Deep South of the pre-Civil Rights era. Voter suppression is a felony in New York and I have filed a criminal complaint.

It is fundamental to democracy that once the vote is done, we all live with the result. This should be particularly known to O’Brien, an elected official of the Fire/Water district. Politics inflames passions; maybe he made a rash decision in the heat of the moment. In any case, O’Brien he should take responsibility for his actions and resign from all public and party offices, immediately.

Martin Dekom