It's Indefensible - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1789759

It’s Indefensible

If Willa Bernstein is not a defense attorney, she should be. Her letter [“Entitled To Vote,” Letters, June 10] contains just the sort of red herrings, mis characterizations and ad hominem innuendo caricatured by TV dramas when desperate defense lawyers try to distract courtrooms from inconvenient and/or incriminating facts.

Let me debunk several of her points:

First, I do not need to call the counsel’s office at the New York State Board of Elections. I, like anyone who can read, may go to the board’s website and find their qualifications for voter eligibility.

The third of six required qualifications states that a qualified voter must be a “resident of this state and the county, city or village for at least 30 days before the election.” The state attorney general’s office, charged with enforcing voter eligibility laws, has the same qualifications on its website.

Ms. Bernstein’s swipe at my “eavesdropping” — her snarkiest comment — hardly deserves a mention, except that it seems to show a desire to kill the messenger rather than address the message. The word “eavesdropping” means “secretly listening to a conversation.” There was no secret that I and at least a half dozen others listened to the conversation. We had no choice, because the two speakers were using full voice in a crowded checkout line. I’ll choose to believe that Ms. Bernstein deliberately mischaracterized this in a clumsy attempt at denigrating me rather than as a result of any intellectual deficit.

Her poorly veiled accusation that my letter constitutes voter intimidation would be laughable if it weren’t so reckless. Far from intimidation, warning those ineligible (or potentially ineligible) to vote in an election that requesting and submitting an absentee ballot both create discoverable records (and could lead to legal jeopardy) might more accurately be described as a public service. Just who is trying to intimidate whom, Ms. Bernstein?

Ms. Bernstein’s meandering survey of dual residency, voter intent and other “myriad factors” that determine the critical legal issue of “residence” is 100 percent correct, as far as it goes. It might even have value to those not already familiar with such issues.

It is also, I believe, beside the point. In the one (and only) case I addressed, Person B’s admission of, “You know, we’re full-time residents of Florida now,” has neatly summarized the sum and substance of their position on these issues.

If Ms. Bernstein disagrees, I’d invite her to cite a single case where a voter making such a declaration was nonetheless found eligible to vote in New York State. I suspect she won’t, because I suspect she can’t. At a certain point, there is no more dust available to throw in the air when you try to defend the indefensible.

Rob Coburn