Counting votes behind closed doors, letting uncertified voters vote, stacking wards with majority party poll workers — questionable activities at Burlington, Vt., polling places reveal a need for greater scrutiny of elections, two citizen poll watchers say.

On Aug. 26, Wendy and Jim Robert spent the day at Burlington’s Ward 7 voter precinct to get a closer look at how elections work in the Queen City.

As voting rolled on, the Burlington residents became disturbed by what they saw — and in one case, what they weren’t allowed to see.

“Jim was told he had to leave at 7 p.m. and that no one could stay that was not an official poll worker, Wendy Robert told Vermont Watchdog. “Everyone who was not a poll worker was escorted out of the building, and the doors were then closed.”

The Roberts reported seeing other confusing poll activities. In numerous instances, people whose names were not on the voter rolls were allowed to sign a form and vote — on the spot, and without any evidence of having registered. Their names were then hand-written onto the checklist.

“People who should potentially not be allowed to vote, who were not on the voter rolls, were being allowed to vote. … Poll workers were saying, ‘It’s fine, it’s OK,’” Wendy Robert said.

Throughout the day, the Roberts observed propaganda in voting areas, improper counting of absentee ballots, unbalanced party representation and excessive socializing by election officials.

Linda Chagnon, a member of the Board for Registration of Voters in Burlington, said counting votes behind closed doors is “appalling.”

“In the election law, it says persons who are not election officials may remain within the polling place but outside the guardrail. That’s always been the case,” she said.

According to Chagnon, voting by uncertified voters is potentially illegal. Moreover, she said newly registered voters receive a pink certification form from town clerks and DMV workers, which they must bring to the polling place.

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