Originally Posted 11/13/2012 (Updated below 11/15/2012)
First, in a town with 5000 plus voters there were 630 new registrations for this year’s election. That’s in the neighborhood of the 10-12% increase we keep seeing all over the state (to clarify that, a lot of towns saw same day registrations equal to 10% or more of all votes cast on election day).
These 630 new voters piqued the interest of a Barrington resident, who decided that they wanted to get a copy of this public record, but when they asked the Town clerk said it would cost him $300.00.
Like I said, a little side business on the sly?
Well what else could it be? The clerk’s office wouldn’t just make up some huge figure as a means of intimidation and hope the hapless citizen was just too stupid to not know any better would they?
Or am I to believe that Barrington does not have a digital version of this list or will not at some point have one after all the same day registrations are entered? There’s no PDF they can attach to an email?
This is intriguing. Three Hundred Dollars…What kind of paper do they use to make copies on in Barrington because they could print it out on US currency and it still wouldn’t be worth that much.
How about this?
New Hampshire State law (91-a) allows the citizen to review, examine, or inspect, any public document that is available. They can even take pictures of it, or make their own copies or abstracts as long as the document(s) are on site and it occurs during regular business hours.
Now the town clerk can deny a request with good reason, but it has to be in writing, and it has to be legitimate–like, say, they don’t have that list put together yet or the documents are not in the office or they are, in fact, not public. These are public records. The clerk even knew how many new registrations they had. So shouldn’t that information be even easier to provide than this?
Kimberly A. Kerekes, Town Clerk, Barrington. Probably 47 years old, currently living in Barrington, yes I have an address. Her husband is Leonard Kerekes, a Newington New Hampshire police officer of 19 distinguished years (retired in 2011)–and thank you for your service sir and where is it you are double-dipping now, I didn’t bother to check that yet? –and who in 2006 earned $58,004.13, making him the 10th highest paid employee in Newington. They have a daughter, Krystin A. Kerekes, smart girl, Nichols College class of 2011 Valedictorian, and it occurs to me that if I can learn this much (and a lot more) in under ten minutes, about the Barrington Town Clerk, using Google, why does a citizen of Barrington have to pay $300.00 for a voter checklist?
It’s highway robbery!
I’m joking about the side business but only because there are serious issues to be resolved here. My honest opinion is that this intimidating sum was wielded at random to keep the riff-Raff at bay. It’s a W.C. Fields “Get away from me kid…” I can’t be bothered with you kind of a sum. “Wow. Three Hundred dollars? I guess I don’t want to see it that badly after all.”
This is just one form of bureaucratic intimidation and there are many.
I suspect that there will be some denials about the sum now, and hey, maybe it’s all just a big misunderstanding, right? I hope so because whenever a minor chieftain of some bureaucratic fiefdom gets busted for playing the tyrant, that always smells of victory. It means the message has been received. That there are people out here who know the law (and share it with me when I ask), and that crazy behavior will not go unchallenged.
But I wouldn’t leave it at that. If the Clerk doesn’t back off the amount the people of Barrington had best get out the endoscope and begin a thorough investigation of the Large Bureaucratic Bowel in their town. I think you may have a blockage.
And here’s the next question. Do I have to Google Camille Browne (Deputy Clerk), Suzanne McNeil, Karen Boodey and Nilda Janelle (supervisors of the Barrington checklist), and write about what the Internet says about them, or how about I go digging for political associations, union connections, and all that kind of stuff next? I like doing that. It’s all in the public domain after all, for free, where the Barrington New Hampshire voter checklist should probably be. Should be.
Don’t you have enough money from document fees to pay someone to put the damn thing on the town website?
Updated 11/15/2012: Our intrepid checklist warrior went back to the clerk armed with 91-a and was informed that they didn’t actually have the list prepared yet. He was told that it would be a few weeks but that they would give him an electronic copy of the new list when it was complete. Skip has ecnouraged him to go back and ask for the existing list, which they used for election day, and which we now know is available in electronic form. For free, apparently.
Asking for a large sum in exchange for the voter list was just one form of bureaucratic intimidation and there are many.
Go get your checklists. Ask for the existing list. Request the same day and updated list. Electronic is best. If you ran for office you can get the absentee list for your race. A document copy fee is not unusual but should not be a large sum. And if they can’t provide it have them give you the reason why in writing (per state law). Share any and all of this with us and we will share it with our readers.
And thanks again to Ed Naile at CNHT for his continued guidance on these matters.