Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Steve Shapiro

American Red Cross: 2012 Chester County Heroes Breakfast Needs Your Support!

The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and responds to emergencies. The Red Cross is not a government agency – all assistance is provided free of charge. Red Cross assistance is made possible through the generosity of people in our region who donate their time, money and blood.

Steve Shapiro, attorney and regular contributor to Community Matters, is on the Board of Directors for our local Red Cross, Chester County chapter. Each year the organization honors Chester County heroes and Steve forwarded information about the HEROES BREAKFAST EVENT to honor this year’s recipient. On April 25, Denise Graf, Captain of the Chester County Red Cross volunteer Disaster Team will be honored for the difference she makes in our community.

Denise Graf, who lives in Downingtown and works for The Vanguard Group in Malvern, joined the Red Cross in October of 2005 and became captain of the Chester County Disaster Action Team (DAT) in 2008. In addition to responding to disasters, she has created partnerships between the Red Cross and the Chester County Department of Emergency Services and the Chester County Food Bank to coordinate services during emergencies. She is also devoted to teaching members of the Chester County community about disaster preparedness and fire safety. Denise received the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year award for Chester County in 2007, the Team Captain of the Year award in 2008, and an award for health fair support in 2010.

Denise reports that 2011 was her busiest year yet as a Red Cross volunteer. “Our team had only opened maybe two or three shelters over the past six years, and we opened four in the span of one and a half weeks during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee,” she explained. The busy year began in February when she responded to a fire that happened to be at the home of her neighbor. The family was very distraught by the loss of their home, and Denise did not see any of them until Christmas Day, when the daughter brought Denise a gift and card. “It took the better part of the year, but they are now back in their home and took the time to come down and let me know how much my assistance in their time of need meant to them,” Denise says.

The HEROES BREAKFAST EVENT recognizes and celebrates heroes in Chester County who have saved lives, committed selfless acts of courage and compassion, and exemplify the mission and qualities of the Red Cross.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012, from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM

The Desmond Hotel, One Liberty Blvd., Malvern, PA 19355

Click here for ticket and/or sponsor information. Remember, the American Red Cross is an entirely volunteer run organization that depends on the generosity of people who donate their time and money. Thanks Steve for sharing this information about such a valuable organization.

PA Voter ID Bill: Costly and Unnecessary … How about Unconstitutional?

Amended House Bill 934, the vote ID bill passed the state Senate yesterday and is on its way back to the House. In a state where there are major budget shortfalls that are forcing reductions in many programs, how is it possible that there is money for this new government program – Pennsylvania voter identification legislation is unnecessary and unaffordable.

There is no evidence that there is fraudulent voting in Pennsylvania that showing a photo ID would solve. HB 934 will disenfranchise thousands of senior citizens, disabled, working poor and students. Not only will the bill eliminate voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote, but also it would cost Pennsylvania approximately $4.3 million to implement.

Looking for another reason that HB 934 should not pass, how about unconstitutional? According to Steve Shapiro, an attorney and Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-1, House Bill 934 violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Please read the following comment that I received from Steve:

Two things happened this week relating to this issue. First, the Senate yesterday passed an amended version of HB 934, which will now return to the House, where it almost certainly will pass. According to news reports I’ve read, Governor Corbett likely will sign the final bill into law. Second, on Tuesday, a state court Judge in Wisconsin enjoined Wisconsin’s voter identification law because, he held, it likely violated the Wisconsin Constitution (

The Wisconsin opinion led me to look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and, sure enough, it appears that HB 934 violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The email below, which I sent to Representative Kampf last night, explains why:


I understand that HB 934, as amended by the Senate, is on its way back to the House for a vote. I am writing to express my grave concern that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that: “Every citizen 21 [now 18] years of age, possessing the following qualifications [relating to citizenship and residency], shall be entitled to vote at all elections subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact.”

As I understand this provision, any qualified voter (i.e., a citizen that meets the residency requirements) who has registered pursuant to the registration laws enacted by the General Assembly has a Constitutional right to vote. HB 934 would prohibit a registered voter who meets the qualifications set out in the Pennsylvania Constitution from voting if he or she does not have proper identification. As such, it would appear that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution, and I am concerned that, if HB 934 is enacted, my fellow poll workers and I will be required to enforce a law that infringes the Constitutional rights of our neighbors.

I urge you to look into this issue before voting on the bill.


Steve Shapiro
Judge of Elections, Tredyffrin W-2″

Thank you Steve for your thoughts on HB 934. If you are concerned about the voter identification bill and wish to contact State Rep Warren Kampf, his email address is:

Steve Shapiro, Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin’s W-2 Precinct, Offers Step-by-Step Guide to Voting Procedures

To help us better understand our voting procedure, Steve Shapiro, the Judge of Elections for the W-2 precinct, has graciously provided us detailed notes below. Steve’s explanation offers us the step-by-step guide to the voting procedure and to the close out at the end of an election day. As I read his notes, it is clear that Steve takes extra steps to protect the voting system process and to insure the quality and accuracy of election results. I know that all that read Community Matters, join me in thanking Steve for his thorough explanation . . . a great community service. Thanks Steve!

Steve Shapiro
Judge of Elections
W-2 Precinct, Tredyffrin Township

Here is an overview of the voting process and the end-of-night procedures:

Before we open the polls, we set up the paper ballot scanner (the M-100) and the electronic machine (the iVotronic). We print out a tape from each showing that no votes have been cast on either machine.

During voting hours, we look up each voter in the Poll Books. If we find them, we have them sign the Poll Book. We also record their name in a different book, called the “Numbered List of Voters Book,” which contains a separate numbered line for each voter. The Numbered List of Voters Book allows us to easily determine, at the end of the day, how many voters signed-in and received a ballot (either paper or electronic). If a voter chooses to vote on a paper ballot, we record the number of the ballot next to his or her name in both the Poll Book and the Numbered List of Voters Book. If the voter chooses to vote electronically, we so indicate in both books. Here a sample of the Numbered List of Voters Book from our poll worker manual, click here.

After a paper ballot voter makes his or her selections, he or she takes the completed ballot to the M-100. An election worker removes the strip at the bottom of the ballot that contains the ballot number, and gives it to the voter as receipt. Now that the ballot number has been removed, the ballot becomes anonymous (it cannot be traced back to the voter) and the voter places the ballot into the machine.

If there are no problems with the ballot, the M-100 processes it and drops the ballot into a locked compartment for safe-keeping. If there are any errors on the ballot that prevent the scanner from reading it, the M-100 displays an error message and returns the ballot (at least, that’s what it’s supposed to do). If there are any over-votes on the ballot (for instance, a voter votes for 3 candidates in a race where he only may vote for 2), the M-100 will display an error message and ask the voter whether he wants to either accept the ballot as-is (thereby invalidating the vote in the race in which he over-voted) or take the ballot back and correct it. Here is the summary of the possible M-100 scanner errors from the poll worker manual – click here.

If a paper ballot voter makes a mistake and needs to correct his or her ballot, we issue a new ballot, change the ballot number for that voter in both the Poll Book and the Numbered List of Voters Book, and keep the spoiled ballot so we can account for it when we close the polls.

An electronic voter makes his selections on the iVotronic’s touchscreen and presses the “Vote” button when he or she is done. The iVotronic will not let a voter over-vote or otherwise mess up his ballot, so we never have to deal with spoiled electronic ballots.

At the end of the night, the first thing we do it process the absentee ballots. The County delivers absentee ballots to us in sealed envelopes with the voter’s signature on the outside of the envelope. We first check the Poll Books to make sure that the voter did not vote in person and that the signature on the envelope matches the signature in the Poll Book. If everything checks out, we open the outer envelope, and remove the sealed inner envelope that contains the ballot. We then mix up the sealed inner envelopes to anonymise them before opening them, removing the ballots and scanning them into the M-100.

Next, we close the voting machines. For the iVotronic, all that entails is a few presses on the touchscreen to lock down the voting function on the machine. We then print off a closing tape that shows the total ballots cast and the number of votes each candidate received. The tape shows only totals — it does not show how each voter voted. We also remove the data card on which the votes are electronically recorded.

The M-100 requires more effort. First, we print out a tape that shows the total ballots cast and the number of votes each candidate received. Then we remove the data card on which the votes are electronically recorded. Next, we open the machine and remove the ballots. The M-100 deposits any ballots with write-in votes into a different compartment. We review those ballots and hand-write the write-in votes onto a tally sheet. We then add the ballots with write-in votes to the rest of the ballots and count all of them by hand to see how many ballots we have (in a primary we have the added step of separating the ballots by party before we count them).

Once the hand count is completed, we fill in a “General Returns of Votes Cast” form. Here is a link to a sample General Return from the poll worker manual:

The form is basically a worksheet that allows us to ascertain whether we have accounted for all of the paper ballots. We add up the number of paper ballots cast, the number of spoiled ballots and the number of left-over ballots. That sum should equal the number the ballots the County delivered to us at the beginning of the day. We also add the number of paper ballots cast to the number of electronic ballots cast to come up with the total number of ballots cast. If, during this process, the numbers do not add up, you are supposed to flag that for Voter Services by writing a note in the “Remarks” box on the General Return.

At this point, it is my practice to check the total number of ballots cast on the General Return against the following to make sure they jive: (1) the number of voters listed in the Numbered List of Voters Book; and (2) the number of ballots cast as reported on the machine tapes. That is how we discovered the problem last week — the number of ballots cast on the General Return did not match the number of ballots cast on the tapes. I concede that neither the General Return nor the poll worker instructions direct us to make that comparison (maybe it should), but it seems like common sense to me. In addition, all poll workers take an oath before we open the polls, and I believe that checking all of the numbers for discrepancies is consistent with the part of the oath in which I swear to faithfully perform my duties to the best of my judgment and ability. A copy of the oath from the poll worker manual is here.

After we discovered the problem last Tuesday, we made a note in the remarks box on the General Return. I also emailed Voter Services and copied a representative of each party (that is not required, but it seemed like good practice).

As for the poll workers’ signatures, even if the numbers on the General Return do not add up and we leave a note for Voter Services, we still have to sign the General Return. So we are not certifying that the numbers are correct; rather we are saying that the reported numbers are what we counted. Likewise, although we have to sign the tapes from the machines, we are are not certifying that the numbers on the tape are accurate. We could not possibly know, for instance, whether the M-100 scanned the votes properly. Rather, by signing the tapes we are saying that these are the tapes we printed from the machines.

Finally, we place the General Return and the data cards into a small pouch, which we seal with a security tab. We place the paper ballots into a large pouch, which we also seal with a security tab. We then drive both pouches, along with all of the other election supplies, to Voter Services in West Chester. The unofficial results you see on election night are taken, I think, from the data cards (the tapes are just a print out of the information on the data cards).

Community Matters © 2024 Frontier Theme