Written by Mike Martin
Campaign rumors shouldn't tarnish Boone County Clerk, League of Women Voters president says
COLUMBIA, 3/25/12 (Beat Byte) -- Worried that "unattributed rumors" could be used to smear Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren, League of Women Voters (LWV) president Linda Kaiser contacted the Columbia Heart Beat about a 2011 vote counting controversy that prompted Columbia City Councilwoman Helen Anthony and a League representative watch the vote count in Ms. Noren's office.
Though it has not been standard practice in Boone County, Clerk Noren encourages all candidates and policy advocates to watch the vote counting process in her office, so long as they inform her by no later than Thursday, March 29.
The Heart Beat earlier contacted Kaiser and other League members, but only received a response from member Carol Schreiber.
"My concern is that unattributed rumors get repeated, and because of that repetition become part of 'what everyone knows,''' Kaiser told the Heart Beat, about campaign hearsay suggesting so-called "progressive candidates" might be cheated out of valid votes during the counting process.
Any "real information should always be reported to the appropriate authorities," Kaiser explained. "I believe it is critical for responsible journalists not to be a part of what could be a smear campaign by endlessly reporting such stories without also reporting that there is no basis of fact to the story. As a responsible journalist yourself, I am sure you can understand that concern."
Confirming that she served as "an objective, non-partisan observer" with Mrs. Anthony on election eve, Kaiser said she had "never participated in the election process. I was very curious and asked many questions of everyone involved."
Kaiser said she observed "numerous checks in the system to ensure the accuracy of the count. Wendy Noren herself was rarely in the counting room, overseeing the overall process and trouble-shooting problems as they arose."
Partisan vote count watchers overseeing other races also pitched in. "It was clear that the Clerk’s office personnel and the Republican and Democratic party members took their responsibilities very seriously," Kaiser said. "I was impressed with the professionalism of all involved."
An unofficial count was posted, while official counts were certified a few days later. Although individual candidates can make their own arrangements, "the League does not have any plans to continue having someone observe the counting of election ballots at the present," Kaiser told the Heart Beat.