I voted during the early voting period last Monday, a week ago from today.
Should I thank Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for an atmosphere simultaneously conducive to both vote fraud and vote suppression? Or, was what I witnessed solely the creation of the Erie County Board of Elections? Rumblings from various parts of the state suggest that the integrity of Ohio’s election systems are being questioned beyond just Erie County.
Check out this Cuyahoga County story about thousands of dead voters told by the television reporters at Cleveland’s Newsnet 5.
For even more news on the topic of election fraud, I recommend a visit to Vote Fraud Squad. They have a clearinghouse of such stories at their site.
The potential for gaming the system to allow dead people to vote during early voting in Erie County definitely crossed my mind. The early voting in Erie County took place in a room that adjoins the Board of Elections office. There are two doors that lead into the voting room. One door is leading to the voting room is from the main hallway. The other door leading to the voting room is from the adjoining BoE office. Both doors opened into the fairly narrow rectangular room on the room’s east end. An oblong table was situated in the center of the room with a few table-top dividers to afford a limited amount of voting privacy for voters who were able to find a chair (crowded conditions meant that not everyone had a chance of finding a seat) where the dividers were. There were other small spaces at that table top and at other very small tables on the perimeter of the room that afforded no privacy. Chairs were at the tables and also along the perimeter, but conditions were crowded enough that a fire marshall might have questioned whether the number of persons in the room violated the fire code. A voter enters the northeast door from the hallway, crosses the narrow side of the room to the southeast door from the BoE office where a small table obstructs the door. Behind the table is one election worker (there’s only room for one to stand in the doorway) who hands voters an envelope with a form to fill out. Beyond identifying which election is being voted on, the printed name of the voter, the address of the voter, and the date that the voter is casting their ballot, the form also requires a signature and a notation of either the driver’s license/state-issued ID number, or the last four digits of the social security number. Voters look for some space in the narrow but long room to situate themselves so that they can fill out the form. Once the form on the envelope is completed, they make their way back to the election worker in the southeast doorway and hand the envelope to her. The worker hands the completed envelope to a co-worker in the BoE office who is out of the line of sight of the voter (with a worker standing in the doorway with a small table blocking the doorway, the view of the BoE office is rather obstructed). The voter then waits for a few minutes while the out-of-sight BoE worker retrieves a ballot for the voter. I’m assuming the BoE worker is matching the name, address, and signature with the voting records in order to make sure that a ballot for the correct precinct is selected. The worker in the doorway calls out the name of the voter on the envelope when the ballot is ready to be picked up. The voter now has the envelope and ballot in hand and again seeks out a space within the room to fill out the ballot. Once the optical scan ballot is filled in, the voter folds it, stuffs it into the envelope, and then returns it to the worker.
OK, now that I’ve outlined the setting and the process for the early voting at the Erie County Board of Elections, let’s break it down into the components that can compromise the system.
- By decree of Jennifer Brunner, no elections observers were permitted during early voting.
- Instead of having a balance of paired Republican and Democrat poll workers like we are accustomed to seeing in voting precincts on election day, there was just one worker at the interface between the voter and the BoE.
- Jennifer Brunner has already stated that checks of the social security numbers and driver’s license/state-issued ID numbers will not be completed because such a check could crash the system. Brunner’s allegation sounds completely PHONEY (in other words, I think she’s LYING).
- The worker at the BoE doesn’t check or even request to check any proof of identity or address when the voter approaches. Everyone’s on the “honor” system.
- The form on the envelope is filled out beyond the observation of the worker, including the affixing of the voter’s signature. On election day at the polls, signatures are witnessed as they are affixed in the voting rolls by the poll worders. There is no witnessing of signatures during early voting.
- Since no ID is presented to workers, and since Brunner won’t check the numbers used for ID purposes, the only verification the workers have to go on is the validity of the signature. It may be hard to convincingly forge a signature in the presence of poll workers, but what about forging a signature beyond the eyesight of an election worker during early voting? This is the kind of lapse that allows dead people to vote.
- When one is filling out the ballot during early voting, it is not being done in the privacy of the voting booth. People are standing around waiting for their name to be called to retrieve their ballot and envelope back, glancing over your shoulder while you fill in the bubbles on the optical scan sheet, and you know that it only takes a glance of a split second to see which bubble you’re filling in. It can be intimidating when you vote in front of an audience. Can such conditions influence the vote? Can they suppress the vote? Clearly the layout of the room and the procedures in place did not instill any sense of security and privacy while voting.
- One more note on the voter suppression issue. If overcrowding and long lines on election day are seen as attempts at vote suppression, then someone should be raising that same concern over early voting.
- What about the envelope system and optical scan ballot system to begin with? Doesn’t such a system lend itself to greater risk of ballot box stuffing than other forms of voting? I pose these questions about optical scan ballots with my observations during a recount process in mind.
The early voting environment in my county doesn’t lend itself to confidence in the integrity of the system that Jennifer Brunner has provided us with. No matter how the elections turn out, there will still be questions raised about how they were conducted. My early voting experience in Erie County was, at the least, unsettling.