Mike M reports in again from Ohio.
This is about the third time I've sat down to rewrite this article, so I decided I had better just get it to Stephen or it might never get finished. I was going to write about the various steps Ohio is taking to fight voter fraud, but the stories and court cases are coming so fast that I can't keep up with them.
One subject I touched on before was election "challengers." Poll watchers certified by the Board of Elections to question suspicious voters and prevent fraud. Well it turns out that our quixotic Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has reccomended to the Ohio Supreme Court that challengers not be admitted to the polls on Election Day. No decision either way has been reached. This is just one of many legal questions that have arisen over Ohio election is the last week or two, and will have about one day (Monday) to actually get resolved. This is a cause for some concern, as the class I took on Tuesday on how to run the polls is already obselete.
I'm really more concerned about uncertainty and consistency than I am about fraud at this point. We as election officials may not know the rules until we open the polls at 6:30 AM on Tuesday. There are still unresolved questions about voter registration in Ohio, and there may be some unhappy people who registered as challengers that may or may not be able to observe and participate. The last thing me and the other thousands of Election Day newbies needs is a bunch of angry lawyers and partisan party workers breathing down our necks as we try to do our job.
One bright spot that I already have experience with, however, is Ohio's absentee ballot. Sporting a new and improved styrofoam backing, these puppies are the...um...ok they're just the same old punch cards everyone has used for decades. The trick is that the punched chads get buried in the foam right underneath the hole, providing a little error checking and preventing a mess at the same time. Since I'm working outside of my home precinct, voting absentee lets me avoid a cross town drive on my lunch break and makes sure that I have the opportunity to vote.
The individual candidates aren't important for anyone outside of Ohio, but the Democratic field seemed particularly weak in Republican dominated Ohio. Incumbent Senator George Voinovich is expected to breeze to victory over his Democratic challenger, and there are is really only one hotly contested House race I'm aware of which is in Cleveland. Kerry is more or less flying solo in this election, as there is little else for the Democratic Party to get excited about on the ticket.
That's about all I have for now. A lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions concerning the procedures and rules for Election Day. As I type, President Bush and Ah-nold are holding a joint rally in downtown Columbus. Schwarzenegger has ties to Columbus (business ventures and a huge yearly fitness expo) and is extremely popular here, so the appearance was a good decision for Bush. Hopefully I'll have another post before Election Day if some of these issues get resolved on Monday. Until then I'll try not to get hypnotized by the incessant bombardment of political ads on TV.