A Fox News editor was surprised on Election Day when a volunteer at his voting precinct asked him his party affiliation, a clear violation of polling site protocol.
The strange incident occurred in Brooklyn, where veteran newsman and Fox News Editor-at-Large George Russell went to cast his ballot early Tuesday in the nation's midterm elections.
"It was a weird moment," Russell recounted. "I signed in as I should and as I was being handed my ballot, the lady who was handing it to me asked, "Are you a Democrat or a Republican?'
"I was a little put off by that," he added.
Russell determined that the poll workers appeared to be trying to decide if his ballot should go in a folder with a red seal or one with a black seal. The folders are used to conceal paper ballots after the voter fills them out in a privacy booth and before he or she hands them to a poll worker who scans them in.
FoxNews.com alerted the New York City Board of Elections to the incident, and was told that it was indeed a violation of the rules spelled out in manuals issued to the volunteer poll workers.
“We sent a team of [Assembly District] workers to address this issue and to inform the poll inspectors and coordinator they are not allowed to ask questions regarding anyone's party," Anthony Nasti, spokesman for the Board of Elections, said. "They also stayed and monitored the situation.”
Color-coded folders and ballots are used in primary elections, where each party has its own ballot. But in general elections absolute secrecy regarding voter's party affiliation and candidate preferences are paramount. Board of Elections officials would not say whether they believe the workers were applying primary election procedures to a general election, although that is one possible explanation.
For his part, Russell suspects incompetence rather than anything "sinister" was behind the query. And anyway, such a question would not have yielded much useful information if a worker had been trying to determine who Russell was supporting.
"As it happens, I am a registered Independent," he said.