The Unity dominated UFT Election Committee rejected electronic voting or in-school balloting early in the election process for this year's UFT election. This is despite the fact that the Union uses electronic voting for SBO and Chapter Leader and Delegate elections. In addition, the UFT uses in-school balloting for contract votes. They know electronic or in-school voting would more than likely lead to a higher turnout. Michael Mulgrew's caucus knows they control a steady Unity vote and Unity's greatest fear is that the portion of the membership that Unity has encouraged to be apathetic might wake up because if they did, they would be much more inclined to vote for United for Change, rather than continue Unity's one-party misrule of the UFT. Hence, suppress the vote.
In the latest round of UFT voter suppression, Unity again acts like the Republican Party which tries to make it more difficult to vote in state and national elections and as Norm Scott points out, NY Democrats are suppressing the vote too.*
NY State is worse than Georgia in many ways. I've been guilty or actually lazy in pointing this out more often. Look at how few vote in primaries and the rules for changing parties. the mail in ballots, the slow counts, etc. We are among the worst. And have you ever seen the UFT call for democracy in voting reform?
For Unity, it wants to make it harder to vote in this UFT election. To add to the cumbersome mail-in ballot process, Unity today rejected a request from one of its candidates to delay the date when members can get a ballot if they had not yet received one by April 25. This came up tonight at the Executive Board when Mike Schirtzer asked about an extension to request a ballot. Ballots are not due back in the mail at the American Arbitration Association until May 9, 2022. Today is April 25 so that leaves two weeks to get a piece of mail from the AAA to a member's home and back if they have not received a ballot yet or if they were given an incorrect ballot or threw it out by accident. Is that enough time?
Let's go to the numbers provided by the United States Postal Service:
The United States Postal Service reported new delivery performance metrics showing the average time to deliver a mailpiece across the postal network continues is 2.7 days.
Here is more evidence from the Washington Post via WTHR 13 on how it does not take two weeks to get a piece of mail back and forth from Manhattan:
- First class mail delivery under 140 miles will take up to two days
- First class mail delivery between 140 and 930 miles will take up to three days
- First class mail delivery traveling between 930 and 1,907 miles will take up to four days.
That seems reasonable. So if we take that number and even if a few are slow, that means a ballot could be mailed out this week at any point, get to a UFT member who could still have a couple of days to vote, and then send it back with plenty of time to get to the American Arbitration Association to be tabulated on May 10.
How did the UFT do in the past on this issue? In 2016 a member could call for a ballot up to one week before the ballots were going to be counted. This is what we wrote in 2016 at election time on May 17 when ballots were due on May 25 to be counted May 26:
Tomorrow is the last day to call AAA at 1 800 529-5218 to get a duplicate ballot.
The UFT gave you up until one week before the election deadline in 2016 to request a ballot if you didn't get one but this year they need two weeks. That makes no sense as we have already shown the Postal service numbers.
There is only one possible explanation for the UFT making the deadline two weeks before ballots are counted to call for a ballot: Voter Suppression.
In my view, the UFT feels a low turnout helps Unity Caucus, which is their major (really only) concern.
For those who want to read the Unity party line, here is Mike Schirtzer's question about the deadline from Executive Board tonight. This is from a report from Nick Bacon of New Action who sat in and took minutes:
On election: UFT election. Mulgrew refuses to answer, says any questions on election must be sent to Carl Cambria (Unity Election Committee Chair).
Carl comes up. Mike asks: why is it 2 weeks before deadline this year to get a ballot delivered if it wasn’t sent to your house this year? It was 1 week before the deadline last election. Not to mention there wasn’t the spring break issue last time. Members who just got back from vacation and were told they have to go in person to AAA to get ballots in person. Is there anything we can do to extend that deadline?
Carl Cambria: AAA can’t guarantee extending deadline will allow ballots to get back in time. What we have done is allow teachers to go to AAA in person this Thursday Friday between 9 and 5 and submit ballots in person. Post office isn’t working at the same pace as last year, which is why we landed where we landed.
Only the most committed of voters would go down to lower Manhattan (unless they work in that area) to get a ballot. Imagine if you live way out of town as a retiree. Forget about it. Blaming AAA or the Post Office for this is rather lame and statistically wrong as the USPS reports a close to 90% on-time record. Unity is engaging in flat-out voter suppression.
If anyone does not yet have a ballot and wants to vote or any of your colleagues need one, I suggest calling the American Arbitration election desk at 800 529-5218. If they say no, email us at ICEUFT@gmail.com. We will fight for you not to be disenfranchised.
This voter suppression is probably not going to impact the outcome of this election as only a few are probably being encouraged to get ballots at this time. However, it goes to show the lengths Unity will go to control the UFT. If the opposition was to come close to winning, in my view Trump's "stop the steal" will be the model Unity will use to retain power.
*This post was edited to show Democratic Party voter suppression.