Bob Cownie

Bob Cownie

CANANDAIGUA — For the last 10 weeks, I have been honored to work at the Ontario County Board of Elections. I assisted in new registrations, processing absentee ballots, acting as an inspector for in-person voting, and finally counting absentee ballots. Unless you are “in the trenches,” it is difficult to comprehend the depth of work required to protect the integrity of an election. What an extraordinary experience it has been!

Time on the job for regular staff has approached 24/7. Why? Simply because each person has been committed to ensuring every qualified voter was afforded the opportunity to cast a ballot. As I performed my daily tasks, I overheard endless phone calls directed to our commissioners and deputies. Even though I’m sure they were tired of answering the same question multiple times, each caller was treated with respect, patience, and an attitude of “How can I help?” I saw dozens of people stop by the office, anxious to register or apply for an absentee ballot, yet not sure how to do so. Critical work was pushed aside to care for their needs. That work would have to wait for after-hours or weekends.

I will never forget when a young woman stopped in. She had become a U.S. citizen only two weeks prior to election day. She desperately wanted to vote but the formal deadline to register had passed. Given the exceptional circumstances, a commissioner spent hours interfacing with a county judge to obtain a court order allowing her to vote. Can you imagine how this woman felt when she voted for the first time as a proud American citizen? I’m sure her heart swelled with pride!

Did we face challenges? Yes, every day. But we were instilled with the belief we could overcome any obstacle by working together. Republicans, Democrats and Independents laboring side by side as a team of one, united to the cause. I am so proud I was part of this group of dedicated individuals.

I want to express my gratitude to commissioners Mike Northrup and Charlie Evangelista and deputy commissioners Donna Zonneville and Sarabeth Miller. Without their steadfast leadership and perseverance, our efforts would have faltered and the voting process would not have gone as smoothly as it did.

Thanks to my fellow poll workers who spent long hours honoring the sacred right to vote in person. Finally, kudos are due to our invaluable clerks and scanner crew, trusted caretakers of the all important voting machines. Please extend your appreciation to these servants when opportunity arises.

By witnessing the safeguards and checks and balances in place, I am highly confident there is no trace of election bias or fraud in Ontario County. I choose to believe the same is true throughout our nation.

Now, we are called to go forth as responsible citizens of our beloved country, defending the rights of all, united as stewards of our cherished democracy. May God Bless America and our sisters and brothers throughout the world seeking peace and freedom.

Bob Cownie is a retired public school administrator, having served as superintendent of the Wayland-Cohocton CSD for 13 years. He volunteers in a host of community organizations including Light Hill Comfort Care Home, Gleaners Soup Kitchen, Family Promise, and in spiritual care at F.F. Thompson Hospital. He’s also a committed platelet/Apheresis donor at the American Red Cross. He and his wife Nanette live in Canandaigua.

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