Centre County Citizens Attempt a Recount of the November 2016 Election

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend, citizens from around Centre County, PA joined together to call for a full manual recount of the Presidential and US Senate races within their individual voting precincts.

In Pennsylvania, there are three ways that a recount of the votes can be held.  The first type occurs when the top two candidates total vote count is within a half percent of each other.  This was not the case in either the presidential race or the US Senate race.

The second way allows either a candidate or registered voters to file a recount petition with the courts.  On Monday, November 28,  Jill Stein—Green Party Candidate for President—filed a petition in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court to hold a full statewide recount.  The hearing before the Court is scheduled for 10 am, Monday, December 5.  According to PennLive.com,  Stein’s petition and her lawyer, Lawrence Otter, contend that

“[A] recount is needed because of what he called a “discontinuity” between pre-election public opinion polls and the actual outcome. Otter also cited problems with the state electronic voting system and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The third way allows for a citizen-initiated recount call.  This is what about 100 citizens from throughout Centre County did on Monday, November 29, 2016. Believing that the state elections law allows citizens five business days to petition the County Elections Office to recount their precincts ballots, people from 32 of the 91 precincts in the county filed notarized affidavits asking for a manual recount.  The law requires that a minimum of three individuals per precinct file their affidavits within five “days” of the initial completion of the counting of the ballots.

Here’s the list of the 32 precincts that were officially accepted:

  1. #1 Bellefonte North
  2. #3 Bellefonte South
  3. #5 Bellefonte West
  4. #16 State College North
  5. #17 State College North East
  6. #20 State College South 2
  7. #21 State College South East
  8. #23 State College SC 2
  9. #32 State College West 2
  10. #35 Unionville Borough
  11. #37 Benner South
  12. #41 College North
  13. #42 College South
  14. #43 College East
  15. #47 Ferguson North 1
  16. #48 Ferguson North 2
  17. #49 Ferguson Northeast 1
  18. #50 Ferguson Northeast 2
  19. #51 Ferguson East
  20. #52 Ferguson West
  21. #55 Halfmoon
  22. #57 Harris West
  23. #59 Huston
  24. #64 Patton North 1
  25. #65 Patton North 2
  26. #66 Patton South 1
  27. #67 Patton South 2
  28. #68 Patton South 3
  29. #88 Ferguson North 3
  30. #89 Ferguson West Central
  31. #90 Halfmoon East Central
  32. #91 Ferguson North Central

Emily Reddy of WPSU Radio came to the Centre County Elections Office on Monday while the petitions were being filed.  Here is her story.

Then on Tuesday, November 30, the Centre County Board of Elections held their certification hearing. Mary Vollero and I spoke at the hearing on behalf of the voters and for both Concerned Voters of Centre County and Vote PA.  These two organizations are the local and statewide voter-integrity advocacy groups.

There were two sessions held on Tuesday by the Board. The first one lasted a little over a half an hour.  Mary spoke first, and I spoke second.  My initial comments during the first session were not videotaped.  But the Centre Daily Times did quote part of my remarks:

“We have a country right now that is up in arms, and we are fighting with each other,” Tosti-Vasey said. “We need to make sure that people respect the elections as they occurred and doing a recount will help in making sure that here in Pennsylvania we understand what happened.”

The Board of Elections agreed that if the petitioners filed their affidavits in a timely fashion, then they had no choice but to halt the certification of the votes and hold a recount. Timely filing, according to the law is within five days after the end of the count.  The decision hinged on what the word “day” in the election law means.  The petitioners had understood from their lawyer that “day” meant business days.  The board’s attorney said it meant consecutive, calendar days.

The count was finalized on November 17.  If you use calendar days, the last day to file was on November 22. Using the petitioners’ definition of “day,” the final day to file was on Monday, November 28 since there were 4 weekend days and the two-day Thanksgiving holiday days intervening.

Listen to what was said.

So when the board realized there were differing legal opinions on the meaning of “day,” they recessed for two hours to have a further discussion with their solicitor.  When they came back, we got the bad news.

Their solicitor recommended that they use the calendar day definition and certify the election. Which they unanimously did.

After they had voted to certify the election, I questioned the count in my particular precinct. I noted that a provisional ballot was counted without the board verifying that this ballot was received from a registered voter.  The Board said I had a legitimate complaint and suggested that I take the issue to the county’s Court of Common Pleas.

After the meeting had ended, we were asked what we would do.  Mary and I said we need to weigh our options. So…

Stay tuned!

The Day We’ve Been Dreading: Plans to Evict #NoDAPL Water Protectors Made Public

Native Americans are asking all of us to stand with them. Speak out. Help stop this atrocity and violence against the indigenous peoples.

Transformative Spaces

14917209_1834292066812571_2296314898723987447_o Water Protectors square off with police earlier this month. (Photo: Johnny Dangers)

As people from around the country continue to converge in Standing Rock, and less than a week after police blasted Water Protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures while gassing them in a confined space, the Army Corps of engineers has lived up to a long-held tradition of the United States government — the displacement of Native peoples. In a letter addressed to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, the Army Corps outlined its plans to remove water protectors from their frontline encampment areas on December 5. In what we can expect will be a violent spectacle, reminiscent of the violence we have already witnessed during this struggle, Indigenous people will once again be faced with forced relocation for the sake of white wealth. While the government has at times voiced sympathy for the Protectors, such actions are, of course, both historically consistent…

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JFK’s Dream, A Call to Action

Picture of President John F. Kennedy making a speech that I found on Word Clip Art. Photographer unknown.

President John F. Kennedy

Today is the 53rd anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s assassination. He gave his own “I have a dream” type speech a month before he died.

We need to heed his words and repeat them even louder and stronger now. We need to stand up for all our brethren. We need to peacefully  push back on the hate we see occurring around the United States.

If we don’t stand up now, then JFK’s dream will be lost….

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.”*

President John F. Kennedy; October 26, 1963

*NOTE, I bolded two sentences above that stand out in this part of his speech that speaks to me about my concerns at this time in our history.

A simple question of decency when people are being harassed. Share it.

Thanks Peter for this great letter to the President of Penn State University and for standing up for civil rights and civil discourse in our community.

Peter is in the Forest

Dear President Barron,

During these contentious times, I’m going to ask you to something that requires courage. We need you to show us that “We are…all in” by taking a stronger stance for love and against division and hatred. I know you have it in you as you stood with your hands up to stand for the lives of our black brothers and sisters. Will you do it again?

eric-barron-0c284829af5d513a

The election of Donald Trump has unleashed powerful forces of bigotry in our country and the adulation of ignorance. Already at our campus, students are being threatened and harassed. A young Muslim woman was found curled up in a stall. A young man donning a Donald Trump mask entered a class and shouted racial epithets at students. One of my students is dropping out of school because of worries for her family. Across the nation the Swastika is being openly used…

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From A Friend…

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Just received this email from a NOW friend.  Please READ.  Several NOW members have signed the petition – that decision is up to you, but the content of this post is important, so please READ:

“I am not advocating that you sign the petition, but reading these comments filled me … again… with fear, resolve, and determination.  I go around humming the song “I will survive,” and then segue to “I am woman.”  Then go back to bed or have a glass of wine or send all of you more emails.  Love and strength and thanks that you’re out there persevering.”  pat

Please read this entire e-mail, consider the extreme importance of acting now, and sign the following White House petition: https://wh.gov/ie80r

Feel free to forward to any and all social/professional networks and post on social media.

Over the last few days, the following transpired:

  1.   1.  Donald Trump…

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picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the "#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate" Rally

Love Trumps Hate Rally

picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the

Outdoor portion of the PSU “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate” Rally

Penn State University held a “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out” Protest on Tuesday, November 15. It was one of many held at universities across the country. Students who believe in human rights and who oppose the election of Donald Trump got up, walked out of class, and headed to a designated meeting space on each campus to “show their resistance” to this election.

Students at PSU left their classrooms at the University Park Campus and headed to Old Main’s front lawn where protests have historically been held since the civil rights protests of the late 1960’s.

It quickly turned into what I believe would be better called a “Love Trumps Hate”  Rally.  The speakers acknowledged that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. We, as citizens must, therefore stand up and speak out for all people and the environment.

Caring for all of our brethren including LGBTQIA people, people of color, Muslims, documented and undocumented immigrants, and women is an absolute necessity. Like in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement must rise again.

The rally occurred at two different venues.  The first one happened in front of the Old Main Building.  Somewhere between 800 and 1000 people appeared to be attending this part of the rally. Since the university did not allow any voice amplification, most people, including myself, were unable to hear what was said.

So the best I could do was take pictures of the signs that were carried by the participants.  Here is some of what was expressed.

The “#NotMyPresident” Type Signs

sign saying Donald Trump is NOT My President with Sponge Bob saying,

Grr! Donald Trump is NOT My President

banner asking whether Trump is/will be the President or a Predator/

Prez or Predator???????????

picture of a boot underneath the words

Anger sign declaring those opposing Trump will “Make Racists Afraid Again.” This was the only non-peaceful statement I saw at the rally.

cardboard sign saying

Put a “Fence Around Pence.”

The Public Discourse and “Love Trumps Hate” Type Signs

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words,

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

picture of two signs. Once says

Get White Supremacy Out of the White House (a call for Trump to reverse his decision to make White Supremacist Steve Bannon his Senior Counselor) and a call for “Civic Engagement.”

Large fiberboard sign saying

Nasty Women Keep Fighting

The March

After the speeches were done, about half of the participants marched over to the Hetzel Union Building to hold a second rally calling people to stand up, support our brethren, and to fight back just as those that fought segregation did in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement.

picture of people leaving Old Main and heading towards the HUB

Leaving Old Main

picture of people moving from the outdoor rally into the HUB for the second part of the program.

Entering the Hetzel Union Building (aka the HUB)

Inside the HUB

Once inside, people gathered on the steps near the HUB-Paul Robeson Center that  was created to “provide cultural, educational and social support for Black students. It was also expected to provide a place for ‘building bridges to understanding.'”  Using the Center as a backdrop, the rally focused on standing up, fighting back, making sure our voices are heard, and spreading the message of civil rights for all.

I was able to hear much of what was said and sung in this venue.  Here are some of the additional messages I saw and some of the words I heard.

picture of signs and people standing on the steps leading up to the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at the HUB on PSU's University Park Campus.

Rally on the steps of the HUB-Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

Picture of what looks like two federal officers holding a Confederate flag and two other officers carrying a flag that says

A Wall is NOT an invitation to dialogue.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are fighting for what’s right.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are Stronger Together

A friend and colleague, Peter Buckland, also attended the rally.  Here’s his view and commentary from inside the HUB. If I can get a YouTube link, I’ll embed it here.

And this is how the rally ended:

Let the Sunshine In

What I did not get a picture of was everyone coming together at the end of the rally to hug one another, saying that “I’ll be here for you.” Black. White. Latino. Muslim. Gay. Straight. Women. Cis. Men. As the Three Musketeers said, “All for One and One for All.” Love does Trump Hate.

Text of proclamation: The County of Centre Proclamation: NUMBER 35 OF 2016 WHEREAS, for the past several years the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness have sponsored National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; and WHEREAS, the purpose of this week, is to educate the public about the many reasons people are hungry and homeless including the shortage of affordable housing, housing discrimination especially towards people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and single parents, the need to economic investment in rural communities and the lack of cost of living increases to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and WHEREAS, there are many organizations committed to sheltering, and providing supportive services; and WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women's core values is economic justice which includes services for residents and programs to reduce hunger and homelessness; and WHEREAS, the Centre County Commissioners recognize that hunger and homelessness continues to be a serious problem for many individuals and families in Centre County; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Centre County Board of Commissioners does hereby proclaim November 12-20, 2016 as” National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week” in Centre County and encourages all residents to seek out activities and organizations to promote education on these issues. ADOPTED this 15th day of November, 2016 CENTRE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week

This week is National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week. This week “hundreds of colleges, churches, community groups, and service agencies” from around the country gather in each of their communities to highlight the issues of poverty. We focus on the impact of poverty – housing insufficiency, food insufficiency, and homelessness.

This morning,  the Centre County Commissioners presented Ni-Ta-Nee NOW with a proclamation declaring November 12-20, 2016 (slightly longer than one week in our case) as “National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.”  I accepted the proclamation on behalf of NOW and then spoke in general as to why this is an important issue.

picture of the three Centre County Commissioners presenting the proclamation to Ni-Ta-Nee NOW.

Centre County Commissioners presenting the “National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week” proclamation to Ni-Ta-Nee NOW. L. to R.: Mark Higgins, Michael Pipe, Joanne Tosti-Vasey, and Steve Dershem.

Hunger and homelessness is a problem in our county as well as the rest of the United States for low-income people and women fleeing violence in the home. I spoke about this problem at the public meeting and indicated to the public that we want our community to know that hunger and homelessness is a problem here in Centre County. I also talked about where you can receive services here in the county if you are hungry, homeless, or are at threat of becoming hungry and homeless.

We worked with the Commissioners to create this proclamation. The public meeting will be aired on our local public cable station and printed in at least one local newspaper.

Here is the proclamation:

Text of proclamation: The County of Centre Proclamation: NUMBER 35 OF 2016 WHEREAS, for the past several years the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness have sponsored National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; and WHEREAS, the purpose of this week, is to educate the public about the many reasons people are hungry and homeless including the shortage of affordable housing, housing discrimination especially towards people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and single parents, the need to economic investment in rural communities and the lack of cost of living increases to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and WHEREAS, there are many organizations committed to sheltering, and providing supportive services; and WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women's core values is economic justice which includes services for residents and programs to reduce hunger and homelessness; and WHEREAS, the Centre County Commissioners recognize that hunger and homelessness continues to be a serious problem for many individuals and families in Centre County; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Centre County Board of Commissioners does hereby proclaim November 12-20, 2016 as” National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week” in Centre County and encourages all residents to seek out activities and organizations to promote education on these issues. ADOPTED this 15th day of November, 2016 CENTRE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Proclamation by Centre County Commissioners declaring Nov. 12-20, 2016 National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week.

And here’s the written text of my thank you to the Commissioners.

I’m Joanne Tosti-Vasey, Vice President – Action of Ni-Ta-Nee NOW. Ni-Ta-Nee NOW is the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. Michele Hamilton—our local chapter president and President of Pennsylvania NOW—sends her regrets for being unable to be here this morning.

First of all, thank you, Mike, Mark, and Steve for acknowledging this week on behalf of the county.

We want to thank all the programs that are working to alleviate hunger and homelessness in Centre County. Programs include the various food banks, Meals on Wheels, Out of the Cold, Housing Transitions, the Women’s Resource Center and the Youth Service Bureau.

We also appreciate those working to protect the rights of people seeking permanent housing, especially MidPenn Legal Services.

The National Organization for Women knows and understands that sensitively and appropriately dealing with housing insecurity, food insecurity, and homelessness is necessary to maintain the health, employment, and educational opportunities for all as well as dealing with the safety issues of women and their families who have to or need to flee violence.

So, once again, thank you for acknowledging this week and the need to focus on hunger and homeless throughout the county.

Farewell, America

Originally published in Moyers & Co., Neal Gable calls upon the media to bear true witness to what is happening since the election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, and the consequences that result:

“…[T]he disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.

We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.”

Central Oregon Coast NOW

No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently.

memorial The sun sets behind the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country…

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Dear World, We are so sorry but we got this one wrong.  Really, really wrong.

Dark clouds rising over the US. Particularly for women, people of color, & anyone who teeters on the brink of healthcare or economic crisis.

So here’s what we need to do…

Stand up. Fight back. For our country. For the environment. For women & children. For all races. #HateTrumpsLove today but not forever.

Margaret and Helen

Margaret, I love you. We will survive, but now it is up to the next generation. If we raised them right, they will find the good in people and this country will find a way forward.

It is my hope that my daughters will one day see a woman as President. Like Hillary, we have fought the good fight for the right reasons. That spirit does not die tonight. It lives on in the next generation of strong, confident, smart women. Thank you Hillary. I wish we could have broken that ceiling together.

Hang in there. I mean it. Really.

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