Friday, November 10, 2006

More Horror Stories from Election Day

My 2006 General Election Poll Observer Experience

During my 17 hours at the polls there was a lot going on. I arrived at Dunbar Elementary at 5:30 am however all of us (including another observer, the nine poll workers, three precinct judges and one equipment technician) stood outside until 6:20 (in the raining cold) waiting for the janitor to let us in the building. The day was off to a rocky start. At least 10 people showed up between 6:30-7:01 a.m. to vote and only 5 people waited to vote, 4 people said they would return (and they did) and one lady said there was no way she could make it back.

The poll workers and judges were appreciative of me being there to insure they were following the updated rules for voting. We had two major issues at the beginning: 1) Can a person vote if their Ohio license did not match the address in the voter roll book. Once I showed the poll workers the rule that they were allowed to vote, we didn't have that issue anymore. 2) Can a person vote provisional ballot at any precinct. We debated about this fact, but once I showed the poll workers in their manual that they could ONLY vote provisional in their precinct or at the Board of Elections, we didn't have that issue anymore.

One precinct judge turned a voter off because of her nasty tone when telling the voter that she couldn't vote, because she didn't have identification. The voter was of Latino background didn't speak English very well. I informed the voter that she could vote a provisional ballot, because her name was in the voter roll book. I also brought over a poll worker who spoke Spanish, however the woman was offended by the nasty poll worker and refused to vote.

Lastly, our polling place was under a federal court order to remain open until 9:00 p.m.. However, our last voter came to the polling place at 7:25 pm and the only action after 7:30 was a poll worker who almost went into a diabetic coma. The poll worker had not taken her second insulin shot because she hadn't eaten for hours. She thought that she would be home by 8:30 p.m.! Overall, I must commend the polling location I was placed because the poll workers and precinct judges were sympathetic and kind to the voters. They were for the most part helpful and they didn't mind my presence during the day.

A couple of suggestions I have would offer: require a back up so that more than one person has a key to open the polling place in the morning and there should be Spanish prompts on the voting machines. At the polling place I observed on the near West Side of Cleveland over half of the voters spoke Spanish and at least 1/3 of those voters needed someone to translate the ballot.

-Teri'­ Horne
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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