Friday, August 25, 2006

Voting Issues and Disconnect Notices

Voting Town Hall Last Night Raises Issue

The Greater Cleveland Voting Coalition hosted a town hall last night at the AFL-CIO/Laborers Building with two representatives of Cuyahoga County and some activists. Candace Hoke of the Cleveland State Election Integrity Project also presented. The new nanny of the Board of Elections, Tom Hayes was also in attendance. I got to ask the first question and the answer certainly did not inspire confidence in the upcoming election.

I asked if an individual shows up at the correct precinct and is already registered, but his identification does not have that address will the individual be able to vote with a regular ballot? The Board of Election official, Francis Lally, said that the individual would have to vote a provisional ballot. Greater Cleveland Voter Coalition volunteer and Case professor, Norman Robbins, said that the law was explicit that the individual would be entitled to a regular ballot. The guy from the People for the American Way said that the Secretary of State has already said that the person should get a regular ballot. I have read the law and I am sure that the intent of the law was for the ID to establish the person is the actual registered voter they say they are not to verify the address. So, I believe that the new law directs the poll worker to let the person vote a regular ballot, but I fear that there will be 88 different decisions in the State of Ohio.

Later, another member of the audience asked to clarify this identification question and there was a continued dispute. Ms. Hoke said that the SoState has only given guidance not a directive. She predicted that this would most likely be settled in the courts. Some Counties have sided with Blackwell's guidance. Why would Cuyahoga County fall on the side of making it harder for citizens to vote?

The two key outcomes of the town hall for me were: Vote absentee to avoid all the problems that will happen at the polls this year. Cuyahoga County announced that they were, finally, going to pay for the mailing of the ballots into the election. Second, the precinct voting system sucks and should be scrapped. If you want to vote for a County wide ballot anywhere in the County you should have that option. Many do not care who the local dog catcher or councilperson is, and just want to vote for state, national and county elections.

Other thing I learned from the meeting:
  • You should be able to check that you are correctly registered to vote in mid September at the Board of Elections website.
  • There is supposed to be two technology people at each polling place to help on the Electronic voting machines.
  • There is supposed to be a greeter at the door of the polling place to make sure that people are at the correct polling place.
  • Provisional ballots are worthless, and you should try as hard as you can not to use a provisional ballot.
  • League of Women voters is very unhappy with the new disenfranchisement law (HB3).
  • Every voter will get a mailing explaining the process in early September including an application for absentee ballot.
It is going to be a rough election especially for homeless people--vote absentee.

Amazing Statistic of the Week

Tim Walters of May Dugan Center has been doing some great work on utility monitoring. Cleveland Public Power no longer has the cheap electricity of years ago (see Callahan), and now they are disconnecting people at a rapid clip. Since January 2006, 14,000 families have been disconnected by CPP or around 100 people a day. Yes, 85% are reconnected, but that is amazing how many people are living on the edge with their housing.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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