Actor Tim Robbins was involved in a high profile voting snafu on November 4th when he was turned away from his regular polling place and told he wasn’t on the rolls and would have to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots only count when a voter’s eligibility is proven, and Robbins himself said that they’re inadequate on an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher two weeks before the election. Robbins is an outspoken Democrat and wasn’t about to let his chance to vote for Obama get away. The cops were called after he made a fuss when his polling place turned him away and he marched down to the Board of Elections to prove his eligibility. After four hours, Robbins was granted a court order and he went back and voted.
The NY City Board of Elections was not happy that Robbins brought attention to the fact that he claimed he was unfairly turned away from voting, so they issued a statement to the media saying he just didn’t go to the right place to vote. Robbins says that’s not true, though, and he did go to the place where he was assured he could vote, where he’s voted for a decade. He’s also understandably pissed that his home address was included in that message sent out to the media and is now available onlline, threatening his family’s safety. The letter is worded well and sounds polite at first but the sarcasm is easy to hear:
Dear Mr. Soumas:
I would like to publicly apologize for being such a dim-witted dilettante on Election Day. I was under the naïve assumption that I could vote where I voted in the last two elections. Your thoughtful letter pointed out that if I had voted in the recent primary election in September I would have discovered that I was no longer registered in the polling place I have voted in since 2004. Considering your position at the Board of Elections and your deep respect for the democratic process I must assume that my local 14th St. poll worker, Betty J. Williamson’s assertion that my name was on the active voter rolls for the primary in September of this year was erroneous and that she must be as confused and wrongheaded as I am. If Ms. Williamson saw my name in the book in September that would mean that you are lying. Certainly you wouldn’t lie about a thing like that. That is unbecoming of a man of your bureaucratic stature. And why would anyone in the Board of Elections be eliminating legitimate voters from the rolls in late September and October of 2008? That’s just crazy and un-democratic.
I should also apologize for the misguided actions of Justice Paul G. Feinman in issuing a court order on Election Day allowing me to vote on 14th St. He apparently thought that a printed out record from your own Board of Elections computer verifying my polling place as 14th St was justification for issuing the court order. If he had only thought to contact you, you could have helped him understand the logic and wisdom of eliminating my name from the book on 14th St. where I have always voted and leaving my name registered at a place I have never voted.
I must also thank you for sending your letter not to me but to all the major newspapers in the New York area and across the internet. I understand it was your way of clearing up this matter and for that I am grateful. I am particularly appreciative of your sending a copy of my voter registration card with my home address and driver’s license number to all the newspapers and, by extension, to millions across the internet. What celebrity dilettante wouldn’t want his private information made public? What kind of snob gets angry that his family’s safety might be compromised? It comes with the territory, right? I was thinking of returning that favor by publishing your home address in this letter but then I thought that maybe one of the thousands of New Yorkers that were taken off the voter rolls in the last two months might not understand what a patriotic upstanding man you are and might show up at your doorstep with the misguided assumption that you are a petty vindictive corrupt scumbag.
New Yorker since 1961
Voter since 1976
P.S. If anyone reading this letter had a similar experience on Election Day it can and should be reported at 866ourvote.org.
[From Huffington Post]
If Robbins was confused by the change to his voting place, a lot of other NY residents probably were too. Not everyone votes in the primaries and it’s unfair to act like it’s their fault if they didn’t get the memo back then. Maybe the Board of Elections earnestly changed the polling places for a lot of people thinking it would help avoid long lines on election day. They should be ashamed that they printed his address and phone number though. Robbins and partner Susan Sarandon are both high profile celebrities and they have teenage kids that could be in danger now that this news is out.
Tim Robbins is shown playing hockey on 10/27/08. He is wearing a shirt that says “Hockey Dads for Obama.” Credit: WENN