Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Morning After Notes

1) BB welcomes readers referred by WLST, Cleveland.com, and NYTimes.com (even if the Times' blogger did take things a little out of context...)

2) Congratulations to David Robinson, John O'Grady, and Nancy Garland, winners of contested primaries for US House, Franklin Co. Commissioner, and State Rep, respectively. I didn't support all of them in the primary (although 2/3 winners is an astounding success rate for me), but I will wholeheartedly support all 3 in their races going forward.

3) Thank you to all of the Democratic candidates who poured their hearts, minds, time, and money into primary campaigns this winter. Some people say that primaries are bad for the party. I'll admit that the short term downside often makes me sympathetic to those who hold that opinion. But in a two party system, primaries are essential for the vitality of our party, and our democracy. So thank you to those who faced losing battles and continued to fight. Thank you as well to all of the Dems who voted yesterday, and decided the directions in which we are taking the party.

4) I listened to the audio of JMZ's interview on the BBC. She says many of the things I said in describing my dilemma, and many things I didn't say but could have. As it turns out, we voted for the same presidential nominee, though I did it for a somewhat less dispassionate and rational reason. On the eve of the election someone made the case to me that they wouldn't ever ask me to change my vote, but if I was truly undecided, would I consider voting for the candidate they cared deeply about, as a personal favor? I'm one less favor in debt now.

5) And finally, I have to highlight one of the comments made in response to my voting story that has made me absolutely ill. As I have no way of confirming any details about an anonymous commenter, I can't give this the push it might deserve:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Completely Unacceptable - Franklin Co. Pollworkers...":

I recently moved into the county and even though I have a valid Ohio DL I, my wife and our son (22 yrs old) were all denied ballots, even provisionals, because the address on our DLs did not match what they had in the book.

I saw what they had in their book - it was our correct, current address of 8 months.

I'm aghast at this. How many other people were denied their right to vote for the same reason?

Posted by Anonymous to Blue Bexley at 6:57 PM

This is a complete disenfranchisement of (at least) 3 valid and legal voters by someone who, as a pollworker, did not know the rules about either Identification OR provisional ballots. If my story filtered up to the NYT website, imagine this story, in November.

13 comments:

Jill said...

Bonobo - thanks for this very interesting post-script! I'm glad the NYT picked it up - I posted it on The Moderate Voice and on BlogHer - and maybe even Brewed Fresh go it too and I twittered it - so - between your post and everyone else pointing to you...

This is what should be out there, people need to know - it's not just blighted inner city areas or college towns or senior centers that have trouble - it can happen anywhere.

I think the best thing to do is to be sure that the SOS has these anecdotes.

B Kessler said...

Bonobo - do you think it possible that a good chunk of Hillary's support came from Republican's voting for her in order to stage a more "beatable" candidate against McCain? See this blog -

http://www.nelsonguirado.com/index.php/asymmetric/2008/02/09/should-republicans-vote-for-hillary-clin

Unfortunately, I know several republicans who voted for Clinton yesterday for all the wrong reasons. I think it unlikely that I'm the only person who has observed this. Have you seen any polling data re: this tactic? Might make for an interesting post...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anymore about the Issue down here in 4C? Speedway (on the corner of Livingston and College) was trying to sell beer on Sunday, and the issue really did not recieve any publicity at all. I found out the day before teh election. I think they were hoping to sneak it through. Well from checking out the county elections web site, it apears that it was a tie 185-185. I guess well wait to see if it is certify the votes.

Paul said...

Bonobo:

I've been a pollworker at every election since 2004, and a Presiding Judge for a number of them (but am of the wrong party to hold that job currently!).

The pollworker who denied that family a vote was wrong in every way imaginable. There is only ONE valid reason to turn a voter away from your polling location, and that's because they're in the wrong place. Even then the poll worker is supposed to help the voter identify their correct polling location, and give directions if needed.

But I'll also tell you that constant rule and equipment changes contribute to problems, not solve them. We all have to attend training classes a couple of weeks before the election to get the latest info, no matter how many times you've worked in the polls - that's a good thing. But we still get letters a few days before the election telling us what has changed SINCE THE TRAINING CLASS.

While this election was not so bad, there have been recent elections where the rules about what constituted a valid ID changed so often that I, as the presiding judge, didn't always know the right thing to do and had to call the Board of Elections for clarification.

So now I guess the Presidential election will be on paper ballots, and voters will once more have to deal with a complete change in process. We're going to be making this switch and using this new system for the first time in an election that is likely to have the greatest turnout in history.

The good news I guess is that you can have lots more people voting at one time than you can when you limited by the number of machines. The downside is that we'll have to deal with handling potentially thousands of completed paper ballots in each polling place. It will be interesting to see what the Board of Elections comes up with as a process.

I suspect it will also mean that we won't get results until the wee hours of the morning - maybe not even until the next day. And if the vote is close and there are challenges, how many times will those paper ballots have to be handled and inspected. Instead of the hanging chad problem, won't there just be a question as to whether voter really intended to fill in a circle, or just accidently made a mark?

The truth is that there isn't a voting system imaginable that is completely immune to tampering. Not matter what we use, fault can be found. All that happens is we make the voters less and less confident.

Perhaps the healthiest thing for our country this election would be for the outcome to be a landslide in every state, making the margin of victory larger than any reasonable effect of monkeybusinesses.

BonoLuke said...

It pains me to say this but, just for fun, I asked the poll workers at Montrose a few relatively easy questions (do you know what optical scan ballots are, etc.) to check and see if they knew the answers.

Let's just say, they didn't get an A. Or a B. Or....

This was relatively late in the day. I respect what they do, but if they are unprepared to do the job, they shouldn't do it.

And they could maybe try being a little nicer.

Paul said...

BonoLuke:

Why don't YOU become a pollworker instead of just criticizing? It's no picnic on the other side of the table...

PL

bonobo said...

BonoLuke,

If I had been a Montrose pollworker, I might have been a little on edge at the end of the day as well. They got a lot of specific attention for a widespread problem. They were just unlucky enough to have someone who turned out to be capable of calling attention to the problem vote in their precinct. Paul states in a comment attached to my original post:

The #1 problem we have is that the rules have changed every single election since 2004, particularly the rules about ID. And yes, we were trained by the Franklin County Board of Elections that a "VALID ID" must have both your name and your current address on them. A drivers license without your current address is not valid, however a utility bill with your name and your current address is. Even a military ID is not valid since they never have your home address on them.

This is wrong. Because Ohio does not issue a new physical license when you change addresses, it is common that a valid driver's license will have an obsolete address. Because of this, and the desire to keep the most common form of photo ID as a viable ID option, the DL is specifically excluded from the address requirement. For instance, see this from the SOS website:
Election Day Voting

* A current and valid photo identification (i.e. Ohio driver’s license, state ID, government ID). Photo identification must show name and address (does not need to be current address for driver’s license); or
* A military identification that shows the voter’s name and current address; or
* A copy of a current utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and current address (including from a public college or university).


Now, I understand that many people are simply unaware of the rules. I am also aware that working the polls is an important and underappreciated job, and that the people who take it upon themselves to do so are committed to the election process. If I had thought that the problem was overworked pollworkers dealing with a constantly changing set of rules, I would have definitely cut them slack. What infuriated me was that the workers were diligently following their training to the letter, but that they were BEING TRAINED to illegally prevent valid voters from getting the regular ballots to which their driver's license entitled them.

Paul said...

Bonobo:

I may have confused the conversation a bit by using the term, Valid ID, which is the term the BOE folks use to describe a form of ID which has both the current name and address. Other's aren't invalid so much as they are irregular and demand special handling.

These decisions about ID control only one thing, whether the voter gets to cast their ballot on the electronic machine (anonymously), or with a Provisional Ballot.

But you can vote even if you have no ID simply by signing the statement on the provisional ballot that you know your vote will not be counted unless you appear at the BOE with Valid ID (within 10 days I think).

There is only one situation in which a voter can be turned away from a voting, and that case is when the voter is in the wrong polling location. In that case, the pollworkers are to look up the voter's address in a book we are issued and direct the voter to go to that location.

PL

BonoLuke said...

I respect what poll workers do, but saying "it's no picnic" does not address my criticism that some the workers I saw did not know the rules. Being defensive and being right are two different things.

If you can't do the job correctly, don't do it. Just like any other job. There is no excuse for getting it wrong. None. This isn't making a hamburger--it's allowing a constitutional right to be exercised.

Paul said...

BonoLuke:

My point is that the rules have changed so much lately (and continue to change every election) that our corps of literally thousands of pollworkers are overwhelmed. And it may be true that with the increasing complexity of the process, many who have served for years suddenly no longer have the skills or demeanor to perform a community service they've handled quite successfully in the past.

So you can help fix that very real issue by becoming a poll worker in the November election, or you can just bitch about it.

Hope to see you at a training class.

PL

Anonymous said...

My comment about the poll workers knowledge of the rules, regs, policies and procedures...I agree 100% with the comment of the worker being overwhelmed and over worked. (On the day the voting starts, each and everyone of the workers start at 5:30AM and the day ends not when the polls close at 7:30PM but rather when their work is done, almost an hour or two later. That's a15-16 hr day!)

But forget about that....it all starts with the training. Have you heard the phrase "the blind leading the blind"? Really does fit here!

Z

The A-Hole Lawyer said...

I worked the polls and brought the issue of denying votes to citizens who have moved to a different county, registered, but not gone to BMV to get a new license printed. The instructor stated that because a new license is required within 30 days of a move between counties, the license is not valid. THIS IS NOT TRUE.

The revised code, and the BMV website state that you must NOTIFY BMV of your move within 30 days, but that can be accomplished online, and nothing requires to you go to a BMV office, pay the fee, and get a new license card itself.

My concers were not addressed in the fast paced, hit the high spots, 3 hour training session. But I will follow up with the Board of elections here in Lucas County.

The A-Hole.

www.theassholelawyer.blogspot.com

Bryan Clark said...

Thanks for the O'Grady support. Looking forward to having your backing in the general!