Entries in "training"

September 13, 2006

the elections are coming

I was very concerned with how the May primary elections played out in Cuyahoga county. (Remember, it took a week to get official results in all the races, and the report which came out recently auditing the official counts based on the paper trail found major problems with how the poll workers were trained, with how they set up and dealt with problems in the new Diebold electronic voting machines, and with how they gave instructions to voters.)

I too, am surprised and a bit frustrated that the Plain Dealer has not given these issues more sustained coverage over the summer.

On the other hand, I was pleased to note that all Plain Dealer subscribers received a voter registration card with their paper on Sunday, and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has mailed all registered voters an announcement in the last few days informing voters of their polling place, and of the new ID requirements which the state legislature saw fit to pass. That mailing also includes instructions for requesting an absentee ballot, so that if a voter chooses to do so, he or she can cast a ballot by mail, before election day. These are steps in the right direction -- though I'm not sure the Plain Dealer can take any credit for them.

And, I don't want to give the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections too much credit for improvements, because when I enter my last name and birthdate in this form, to verify that I am registered, no record is found. Puzzling.

I'm still deliberating about whether or not to cast an absentee ballot, particularly since that search online does not verify my registration. In May, all the absentee ballots had to be counted by hand, and I haven't seen any reassuring comments from the elections board staff that this will be avoided this time around. Furthermore, one of the grounds for rejecting an absentee ballot is if my signature does not match the signature in the board's records, and while I have never seen anything next to my name in the board's records during past elections, my husband has repeatedly seen a completely different name signed next to his printed information.

I guess this means that I will vote on election day, even if I have to wait in line for an unpredictable amount of time. I want to know if any problems arise with my voting. I trust myself to follow through in order to make sure my vote will be counted properly -- I'm not sure I trust the temporary staff who are the poll workers and vote counters to do so. I do hope that the board of elections will be able to hire more tech-savvy poll workers and election judges this time around, though I am a bit disturbed to see that poll workers are only required to attend one 90-minute training session before election day. Before the May election, my understanding was that the county conducted 3.5 days of training -- and many workers considered that insufficient. Perhaps the additional training is for judges and presiding judges, who actually do the setup and breakdown of the voting machines? I hope that some of the university's retired staff and faculty will consider serving as poll workers this year.

In any case, I hope that anyone who has moved recently will update their voter registration information soon. In Cuyahoga County, you must register by the end of the day on October 10. Click through on that link to download a registration form, which can be mailed in to the board of elections.