Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is Blackwell and Ohio at it again?

The municipality where I live had a special election today for voters to approve or deny an income tax increase. I won’t spend a great deal of time discussing the attempt to sneak by a tax increase in a special election that was barely mentioned in the local media. Or that at 9 am I was the 1st voter to show up at the polling place for my precinct. I will however go into my observations at the polling place and my concerns.

First surprise to me was I was asked for identification. I questioned this, as never had that been required before. I was informed that Ohio House Bill 3 now requires it. After some research I have found that there is a law suit pending filed by Common Cause on a variety of issues within this bill, not the least of which is an obvious attempt to reduce the number of voters not to make it easier to vote as we have been promised again and again.

Second thing I noticed and this was my biggest concern, as they flipped through the book of voters I noticed the vast majority of the names in the book had a notation beside their name, “returned mail”. Luckily for me mine did not, as the poll worker put it, I was a “good voter” apparently meaning I show up to vote for most elections and no mail has been returned that was sent to my address. What would have happened if I chose not to vote in the primary? What would have happened if somehow I didn’t receive some mailing from someone who was verifying my address?

Perhaps there are procedures to deal with these voters but how much will this slow down the election process on a busy election day? How much additional hassle will having your name marked “returned mail” will one be subjected to.

Finally I stepped up to the new electronic voting machine. A different one then they used last election for the primary. This one did have an internal paper ribbon that recorded the vote and was easier for the voter to see. It did not have the name diebold on it but that doesn’t mean they didn’t manufacture this machine.

My concern was this: I am fairly technologically savvy, I often use atms, personal computers and self check out at the grocery store. I would say in fact my knowledge and comfort using electronic systems is above average. However, I required assistance on this machine. After I clicked the vote, nowhere did I see a button to cast the vote. The poll worker said that there should be a green button on the right to cast the vote. There wasn’t. Finally we jointly figured out I had to push the yellow “review” button first in order to be able to see the green button.

If I needed assistance, I don’t even want to think about others I am close to that have no understanding of using electronic devices. This was clearly confusing.

It is important to me to stick to the facts and opinions based on fact in this blog. Therefore I will not say these observations are proof of any deliberate attempt to make it harder for people to cast their votes. I will say simply, I am concerned.


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