Ohio: Suit Filed for Election Observers, "Dial Up" Provisional Ballots, and a Comment
Ohio: Suit Filed for Election Observers,
"Dial Up" Provisional Ballots, and a Comment
(Wash. DC) With the help of the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC), Robert Owens, Independent candidate for Attorney General and Delaware County, Ohio attorney filed suite Friday, Oct. 31 in Delaware Common Please Court to open up the presidential election to independent observers. The OEJC alone has observers at polling places in 87 of Ohio's 88 counties to document events and encourage fair and legally compliant elections. But Delaware County is saying no to these citizen witnesses.
This prompted Owens to file a complaint in local court for "declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus and, an application for preliminary injunction to force Delaware to open up its elections.
OEJC Director Paddy Shaffer is "a recovering Democrat that feels like an independent now" and Owens is the Chairman of Ohio's conservative Constitution Party. This mirrors Ohio's 2004 election controversy during which the Green and Libertarian parties worked in unison to demand a recount.
The county has been the focus of concern about elections for some time. Research by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD, showed numerous reasons for concern about Delaware County during the 2004 election and aftermath. His research is part of an ongoing federal lawsuit claiming election fraud against Kenneth Blackwell and others in the 2004 Ohio presidential election.
The problems in Delaware County included records indicating that multiple precincts had between 80 and 360 consecutive voters standing in line then voting for George W. Bush, an incredibly unlikely event. The county reported 20,000 more registrations than there were voters on the rolls.
When Dr. Phillips appeared at the Delaware County elections board to examine ballots, his prerogative under Ohio law, board officials called the police several times asking that he be evicted.
The hearing is scheduled for today (Nov. 3) at noon.
Stark County, Home of the "Dial Up" Provisional Ballot
North Canton, Ohio, located in Stark County, is the home of Premier Election Systems. The elections division of Diebold changed its name but continues as a wholly owned subsidiary.
Paddy Shaffer discovered a pre-election policy that guarantees a provisional ballot for voters who simply call the county board of elections and request the location of their precinct. Shaffer discovered this policy during an Oct. 29 conversation with a county elections worker. Shaffer asked for confirmation that the sentence below was what the elections employee said. She was told that this was the statement made and the policy of the county board of elations:
"Anyone that calls their Board of Elections office to find out where they are to vote gets flagged and when they vote they will vote a provisional ballot."
This concerned Shaffer for several reasons. Provisional ballots are a second class form of voting designed for those who show up at the wrong precinct. Those voters are given a special ballot to cast their vote. The ballot is considered "provisional" until verification is obtained that the voter is a registered in another precinct. These ballots require special research by the board of elections or special actions. In Ohio last election, 22% provisional ballots were not counted. Those that are ultimately counted don't show up in election night totals.
The automatic receipt of a provisional ballot simply for making a call to the board of elections about a precinct location inconveniences to voters, takes their vote out of the vital Election Day vote count, and creates a one in five chance that there vote simply won't be counted.
Shaffer contacted the Ohio Secretary of State's office and spoke to a senior attorney. She requested an immediate inquiry regarding this policy. In a return voice mail from the state attorney, she was told that her statements were "categorically false" and that "internet rumors started (about this incident) are highly problematic." Schaffer knows of no internet "rumors" about Stark County's policy on inquiring voters nor is there any evidence of such "rumors" online through a search using various search engines.
Stark County has a troubled history in the 2004 election. According to a letter to Secretary of State Brunner in May 15, 2007 (p. 215) the county destroyed all of its "soiled ballots" (damaged and uncounted) within 60 days of the presidential election. This violated both Ohio and Federal law requiring that federal ballots be preserved for two years after the election. The county offered no explanation for the policy, just a description of the procedure.
There is speculation that Ohio will again lead the nation in provisional ballots for the presidential election. If it's close in Ohio, the courts will become the venue for the final decision. The state gives parties a 10 day post election grace period for challenges to individual provisional ballots.
Four Years Later and Still "Waiting for Godot"
The array of problems already exposed and those awaiting citizens on Nov. 4, 2008 comprise a sever indictment of the bureaucrats and politicians responsible for an election system that inspires real doubt by the public.
Voting machines that fail, flip votes, lack real security, and "malfunction" in numerous ways on multiple occasions, all in private with quality assurance data available only to the vendors who routinely block access by the public and elections officials: that's what you will see when you vote this on Tuesday.
Vote counting that's conducted in private with machines performing shielded calculations on invisible ballots: that's another feature of an election system that's anathema to true democracy.
The systematic exclusion of the poor and minorities, a problem present for over a century, will be in full bloom. Federally mandated registration databases will play a key role in this process. These were outlined and mandated by the federal Elections Assistance Commission which apparently didn't notice the grotesque parallel to Florida's voter purges that stole the right to vote from tens of thousands of legitimately registered black citizens in the 2000 election.
Over 2.5 million ex-felons will be denied the vote even though they've served their time. This disenfranchisement plus voter suppression programs aimed at black citizens have a direct lineage to programs initiated in the period following Reconstruction by the "Redeemers" and the Ku Klux Klan.
These and other problems are not that difficult to fix. They're certainly less expensive to fix than the $6.5 billion spend on federal subsidies for electronic voting, etc.
The fact that they remain unfixed, that these problems show up election after election indicates that those in charge actually endorse the outcome of the problems. They sit in legislative bodies and fret over "voter fraud," a "crime" that produced only 24 convictions (p. 9) by a focused Department of Justice effort three years. They allow unrestrained legal bribery in the form of campaign contributions and do nothing to promote a dialog on the real concerns of the people. Rather, they define complex criteria for selecting technologies and making policies that distance the elections process from voters.
But they never really attempt to fix anything in an effective way. They're the guilty parties in the upcoming crime against the people.
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