Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Thank You Secretary of State Brunner

Homeless Coalition Supports Firing of the Elections Board Members

The NEOCH staff and board have participated in observing the last two elections to make sure that homeless people were allowed to vote. We have done a great deal of work at all levels from registration to assisting people in voting. We absolutely support Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner's decision to ask for the resignation of all the Cuyahoga County Board members of the Election's Board. They have repeatedly fallen down on the job, and failed to provide assurances to a fair and open voting process. They have allowed poor decisions by the administration of elections to stand. They themselves have made poor decisions as a board and allowed political implications to get in the way of confidence in voting. I cannot tell you how many times over the last five years the question of, "Will my vote even be counted?" comes up when we are doing voter registration drives. This was a question we rarely heard in mid 1990s, but now it is commonplace.
Here are a few reasons we feel that the Board should resign:
  1. They should have cleaned house with all new leadership after all the problems in 2004.
  2. They made a bad decision in picking the Diebold electronic voting system and not providing enough training for the workers in the 2006 election.
  3. They did not stand up for Cuyahoga voters when Blackwell was sending out directives to keep voters away from the polls in 2006.
  4. They did not take seriously the problems with the Board not following procedures when the two election workers were indicted last year.
  5. They did not do enough to enforce the NEOCH vs. Blackwell lawsuit settlement in November 2006. Many precinct committee staff did not understand the settlement, and were never told about the settlement, so turned away voters without ID. Even staff sent from the main office were unaware of the settlement.
  6. The Board members never provided any guidance on the role of the election observers in the 2006 election. This caused a conflict at the precinct that I monitored, and the Cleveland police had to be called to settle the dispute.
  7. They provided no guidance on the privacy of the voter while they cast their vote. There is no directive from the Board about photographing voters as they are casting their vote, and the ability to cast a ballot without a cameraman filming. Many homeless people do not want to be photographed while they do anything including voting.
Overall, the Board members do not act in the best interest of voters and do not supervise the election in an effort to arrive at a fair outcomes. They have allowed partisan political considerations to taint their responsibility to the administering the signature act of our democracy. We applaud the Secretary of State for asking for the full Board's resignation, and we hope that the next Board will operate in a more open and honest manner, free of the problems of lines, cutting corners and delays in release of the results.

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

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