Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Worst Experience in Poll Monitoring

Police Called to the Precinct Featuring Homeless Voters

On the day that Pam Denton appeared on the Editorial pages of the Plain Dealer, it is ironic that poll workers were poised to give her the wrong ballot. I was a poll watcher today at Precinct Cleveland 13D and 13E, and it was the worst experience I have had in a long time. The stressed workers were great, but one worker sent from the Board of Elections, Karen, was an absolute obstruction to voting. She was so mean, angry and put off by the observer process that she banned us from talking to anyone. I could not sit still when Pam Denton, the subject of Joe Frolik article today showed up, and asked me for help. She was given the wrong provisional ballot--from the wrong precinct. This would have invalidated her ballot, and thus disenfranchising her after all the work we did to get her to vote.

Karen, the Poll Worker trainer, who was sent by the Board of Elections when the two precinct judges did not show up in the morning. If she was the model trainer it is no wonder that things went so bad today. She was mean to her own workers, angry and was unclear of the law. Anyway, she called the Board and asked that I be removed from my role as observer. Then she called the police to have me removed. No one from the Board of Elections ever called to tell Karen to chill out and work with the observers. I was placed in the Sterling Rec. Center to make sure that homeless people voted and were not disenfranchised. Karen wanted me to only talk to voters as they left--which means that they would have cast their ballot incorrectly. She did not want me to talk to poll workers even if they were doing activities that would have disenfranchised voters.

I am proud to say that despite Karen the poll worker trainer and her obstructionist behavior all of the voters that showed up at the polls did cast a ballot. Will those provisional ballots be counted is a big question. Since I was not allowed to be near the table, I could not tell if they were filled out properly. I felt bad for the workers who were bullied and pushed around by Karen. I do not understand the mentality of someone who would want to make mistakes instead of quietly trying to resolve these issues before the mistake were cast in stone or in diebold we trust in this case. I was trying to make sure that every voter cast a valid vote. Karen seemed to want to show that she was in charge and she would not accept any input. I did not get arrested or thrown out, but thanks only to the wonderful lawyers from the Election Protection who helped monitor the polling places.

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

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