Cuyahoga County Issues 5, 6, and predictions about voting over the next 50 years into the future

First of all, on the issue of Cuyahoga County reform, voting NO on Issue 3 would be quite helpful in keeping a lid on corruption.  Access to a casino, with its money-laundering potential, facilitates crime and political corruption.  Even the police will have a hard time trying to keep everything above board in a casino environment.

I urge support for Issue 6 and defeat of Issue 5.

Issue 6 is not a cure-all.  Even with the restructuring of Cuyahoga County government under Issue 6, the “good old boys” will eventually figure out how to game the system.  But, under Issue 6, there is provision for a charter review down the road that will allow the new structure to be re-evaluated and refined to address any unwanted unintended consequences that crop up in the short run.

The charter review process provided for in Issue 6 therefore makes Issue 5 a moot point.  Issue 5 would merely continue study of the issue of county reform, without any commitment to adopting any recommendations that might result from such a study.  If you think the issue of reform requires more study, this can still be accomplished with Issue 6, which does commit to a structural change, but which can and will be revisited.  For the “good old boys” who’ve been gaming the system for years, Issue 5 is all about gaming the system.  Thus, even though Issue 6 isn’t fool-proof,  Issue 5 is an attempt to fool the naive and gullible into thinking progress toward reform will still be underway when the opposite is more likely to materialize: the death of reform.

Issue 5 asks the voter to choose a slate of members for the reform-study commission.  Whether you vote yes or no on Issue 5, you are directed to choose one slate or the other.  If Issue 6 is defeated and Issue 5 passes, your best bet to avoid the death of reform is to choose the following slate:

Angela Thi Bennett
Jack Boyle
James Brady
Ruth Brady
Thomas Kelly
Roz McAllister
Joseph Miller
Mary O’Malley
Jamie Pilla
William I. Russo
Thomas P. Slavin
Linda Smigel
Elaine Trapp
Tom Wilson
Pat Wright

Here, at Buckeye RINO blog, I’d advanced a remedy of my own relative to cleaning up county-level corruption throughout Ohio.  My remedy included moving county commissioner races to odd-numbered years so that the county commissioner candidates would face more voter and media scrutiny rather than get swept into office by hiding in the coat-tails of presidential and gubernatorial candidates.

It just so happens that, during my present exile in Pierce County, WA, fighting county-level corruption is also fueling ballot issues.  What proposal is on the table to reform Pierce County government?  Voila!  Moving several county-level election races to odd-numbered years!  Just the kind of thing I’d recommend for Ohio!

I’ve looked into my crystal ball, and I’ve seen the future of voting.  Within the next 50 years, election calendars all over the nation will be introducing staggered elections and staggered start dates for terms in office.  Federal elections will still occur on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November of even numbered years, with terms beginning the following January, but I predict a shake-up in state, county, and local election calendars.

There are 4 years between Presidential elections, and 2 years between Congressional elections.  There are 12 months in each year.  There are 52 weeks in each year.  As political corruption that has gone on for decades at all government levels continues to come to light, there will be a mounting public outcry for greater transparency.  Transparency will be among the chief motivations for changing our election calendars.

Leading up to these election calendar changes will be refinements in election technology that allow for greater automation, tamper-proof security, result tabulation speed, remote voter ballot access, and streamlined voter registration processes.  We’ve witnessed experiments in early voting periods, same-day voting, voting by mail, voting by internet, touch-screen voting, optical-scan voting, voter paper trails and receipts, motor-voter registrations, and, of course, security upgrades.  We are on a learning curve.  Eventually, this learning curve will create all the technology needed for the greater flexibility that changes to our election calendars will require.

Currently, our election calendar features deadline dates that are fairly standardized from year to year.  There are deadlines for filing candidate petitions.  There are deadlines for filing issue petitions.  There are deadlines for registering to vote.  There are deadlines for requesting absentee ballots.  There are deadlines for registering as a write-in candidate.  There are primary election deadlines, general election deadlines, and even special election deadlines.  There are campaign finance reporting deadlines.  The work at a Board of Elections office, therefore, fluctuates on a seasonal basis, according to the deadlines.  During peak times, such as the general election, dozens upon dozens of temporary election workers have to be added in each county, and the permanent staff is on the clock for lots of overtime hours.

What if there were ways to make the work of the Board of Elections less cyclical, spreading out the work throughout the year more evenly, requiring less peak loads, thus reducing the need for temporary staffing and overtime pay?  If technology upgrades yielded by our experimentation and our learning curve allowed us to more evenly space out the elections calendar, could we save a lot of taxpayer dollars expended for elections operations?  I think so.

So, at first, in the interest of transparency, I foresee lower-profile election races from even-numbered years migrating to odd-numbered years.

Next, I see Boards of Election acquiring the ability to handle elections on a more frequent basis throughout each year.

Next, I foresee that start dates for terms in office will be staggered, so that not all governments at all levels start from a blank slate each January as they currently do.  Congress may begin in January, but perhaps the Ohio General Assembly may begin in September, or some other month.   School boards may begin in July, or some other month.  County commissions may begin in March, or some other month.  City councils may start in December, or some other month, etc., etc., etc.

Next, a revolving door of election cycles will be reflective of the staggered starting dates for terms in office.  Potentially, each elected office will have its own unique campaign cycle and term commencement date.  Voting booths will not need to be deployed county-wide through every county.  Instead, voters will have remote access to the ballot, and technology will assure that votes are securely tamper-proof.  Each new week could possibly usher in a new candidate election period for one office or another.  This week might be county auditor week.  Next week might be county coroner week.  The following week might be county clerk of courts week, and so on.  Peaks of the election cycle will be minimized, and the work of election boards more balanced throughout the year, and more automated.

Campaigns could be less costly, as a low-profile candidate won’t as likely be priced out of the TV advertising market by Presidential candidates who’ve bought up the bulk of air time.  With the staggered election cycle, every public office will have it’s time in the spotlight.  Like Andy Warhol said, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.

Remembering to vote each week or so would be like remembering which day to set the garbage can by the curb for trash collection.  If a voter desires election reminders, the board of elections can send out a weekly tweet.  A voter can respond to the tweet, if they so choose, by casting their ballot du jour.

Pollsters wouldn’t have to rely so much on collecting random samples of the population to survey.  Each week, new election results would come in from many parts of the country, and they’d be able to analyze those results for shifting moods within the electorate.  Polimetrics would become more easily and cheaply interpretable.

Why am I so confident that election calendars will morph into revolving doors during the next 50 years?  The push for transparency, the desire to reduce the role of cash in campaigns, the convenience to voters and election boards, the revolutionized technology, the efficiency and cost savings of operations at election boards, and especially the outraged public who want to bring an end to the culture of political corruption will force these changes to our election calendar.

4 Responses to “Cuyahoga County Issues 5, 6, and predictions about voting over the next 50 years into the future”

  1. Bev Harris Says:

    Thanks for the update on some key Ohio ballot issues. The casino issue will be one we’d like to see scrutinized closely; the gambling questions are a traditional target for manipulation of the votes.

    Now, for some corrective information: You wrote “Leading up to these election calendar changes will be refinements in election technology that allow for greater automation, tamper-proof security, result tabulation speed, remote voter ballot access, and streamlined voter registration processes. ”

    Greater transparency, better public controls are the core issue, not “greater automation”, which tends to conceal key processes from the public, thereby transferring ultimate power over the election to insiders.

    There is no such thing as tamper-proof security, because you cannot secure a computer against its own administrator. What you may be referring to is securing from outsiders; however, it is and always will be those with inside access who pose the greatest risk. And no computer security expert I’ve ever met believes you can secure a computer against its own operator and owner.

    Remote ballot access cannot be achieved without ruining political privacy; while cryptography buffs like to think up gadgets for this, the truth is that all cryptography does is transfer the problem of inside access to another party. Elections must not be based on trust of insiders.

    Now, the kind of reforms that will be truly meaningful are those like we are seeing sweep across Europe right now. Germany recently banned its computerized vote counting system, deeming it unconstitutional and a violation of human rights because it conceals the actual counting process from the public.

    Thanks for the blog; please give more careful consideration to the concept of complexifying elections through technology.

    Bev Harris
    Director – BlackBoxVoting.org
    A national, nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog organization

    • buckeyerino Says:

      Thanks for your feedback. I believe there is much truth in what you say in the short run.

      However, I’m looking into my crystal ball, and 50 years into the future, I believe all the concerns you cite will be resolved.

      I’ve seen the future. 😉

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