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City Council affirms goal to conduct safe elections in Ely

Resolution presented by citizens rejected for technical reasons

Keith Vandervort
Posted 10/22/20

ELY – With prompting from two residents, the city council Tuesday night affirmed their goal to continue to conduct free and fair elections in the city of Ely.

A proposed resolution presented …

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City Council affirms goal to conduct safe elections in Ely

Resolution presented by citizens rejected for technical reasons

Posted

ELY – With prompting from two residents, the city council Tuesday night affirmed their goal to continue to conduct free and fair elections in the city of Ely.

A proposed resolution presented by two local political activists, Carol Orban and Betty Firth, was rejected by Mayor Chuck Novak for technical reasons but he agreed to support a motion by the council affirming the same goal.

Firth and Orban formally requested to appear before the council and read their resolution:

“The Ely City Council resolves that our democratic system rests upon the innate dignity and worth of every citizen. Its laws provide equal protection to all. The Ely City Council opposes any threats to destabilize any election, including any actions that undermine citizens’ trust in the integrity of our electoral system. Ely officials involved in any stage of the electoral process assure that the vote of every citizen -  whether the they vote in-person, drop box, or absentee ballot – will be counted.”

Firth told council members that she and Orban were concerned about recent reports about voter obstruction of the upcoming presidential election.

“Range cities are going to be targeted and Ely was among them,” she said. “We feel that your commitment as a council and Ely law enforcement will send a good strong message to the public that you are aware that there have been threats and that you are prepared to protect each citizen’s right to vote and ensure that all votes are counted.”

Orban added, “We are not concerned that the clerk or city of Ely will not count votes fairly. We are more concerned about other kinds disruptions in the actual election process. We would like to know if the city has a plan in case strangers come in or even people from our city show up to perhaps intimidate voters and that sort of thing.”

Novak responded, “The answer to your question is ‘yes.’”

When asked by council member Paul Kess if the resolution would be addressed at that point or later in the meeting, Novak said the resolution was not “proper” in the way it was prepared.

“Resolutions come to the council in writing in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order,” Novak said. “There must be a resolution number attached to it and must follow the sequence that our clerk’s office handles. Going with a last-minute resolution and not knowing what all the details were and the reason has caused this council in the past to get in a sticky wicket.”

Kess suggested that the council consider a motion to accomplish the same idea of supporting free and fair elections in the city. His motion was supported by council member Albert Forsman.

Forsman said, “I don’t feel there is a need for this other than to comfort those who are maybe questioning it. We have an outstanding (city) staff and our volunteers who work the polls and are well trained and take an oath to ensure a fair election. Our community as a whole wants that. Because there are people out there questioning what’s going on in our world right now, I will back this.”

Novak added, “From my perspective, we are passing a motion that restates what we are already doing.” He noted that he has not seen any documentation indicating “any possible shenanigans” going on. “I wasn’t really worried about it.”

He praised the training of the city’s election officials in preparing for the elections. “We have a right and a duty to vote and it should not be interfered with,” Novak said. The motion passed unanimously by the members present.

Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski said that all absentee ballots received by the clerk’s office by election day, perhaps 700-800, will be fed into the ballot machine and counted after polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 3.

“We will likely be counting ballots until midnight,” he said. “It will be a long day.”

City officials this week conducted accuracy testing of the city’s vote counting machine.

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