Monday, April 16, 2007

Running and Participating In Citizens' Elections

And I don't mean only voting, and producing and/or looking for election results on election night.

Very few realize the detailed difficulty, the ongoing nature, the number of person-hours it takes to properly and legally prepare for an election day, or work it; that after election night our boards of elections are still sorting,counting, and verifying provisional votes for weeks to be able to proclaim our "official results"; and working sometimes months cleaning up and filing from one election should there be future questions, while preparing for another; or even the many
inside, often subtle, vulnerability points - both local and national - that can mistakenly and/or intentionally, easily sway who will be our next leaders or whether or not a tax issue passes.

That is one reason we need the best, brightest and most trustworthy running and working our elections, not the self-interested, political patronage system that has been in place so long in so many places across the nation - often as long as those in power were scared to lose it/determined to grow themselves, their power, their finances - thus, as long as human greed has existed within voting systems, and status quo power has attempted to thwart change.

As we've somehow just trusted election officials and often the already-elected who put them there, and
we've let them alone while handling our votes, or are making the laws that control our elections, it's become increasingly easier for those who feel far more accountable to each other than to citizens, control results from the inside, and to keep citizens, the majority subject to those results, rules and laws, from knowing or watching what they are doing.

That is the reason for this site - to engender citizen knowledge, thus empowerment, thus wide participation in OUR elections, year-round, so that they can become what most, still too often mistakenly think they are - OUR voices and choices.

That is one reason I've heaped praise on our new Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, state elections chief, for in 3+ months she has solidly set in motion huge projects toward voters' ends, and
has accomplished huge transparency and accuracy goals for the benefit of voters and thus, the professional benefit of election officials statewide - and she has done that fairly with a very firm and compassionate management style.

That is one reason it is such a welcome step to be starting with a whole new slate in Cuyahoga's top election leaders. Though we don't yet know who all will fill those board and director positions, nor the perceptions from which they come, with Brunner's team oversighting the elections board and the processes of selection, we have a new chance at fairness - which is up to US, to oversight, or rather CO-sight, in order to maintain and allow the tax-paid board officials to serve us, rather than the other way around.

That is one of the reasons I have heaped praise on Interim CCBOE Director, Jane Platten, who while stepping into the position - and despite the brou-ha-ha's surrounding; and having to immediately oversee the prep for the May 8 election, a job she has never done before - has fostered more efficiency, openness, long-term planning, overall vision and organization than I've seen for the past three years. It is neither Brunner nor Platten's politics I find such a welcome and hopeful relief, it is each of their fairness, competence and openness.

That is one reason that legions of - but still relatively only a handful of people and needing more - fair elections activists across the nation sometimes give up sleep and social life to keep up with national and local election happenings, and though possibly disagreeing at times about just how to do it, agreeing that in this democracy, for it to survive, that citizens' elections must be open to assured citizen equal access, transparency and verifiability for the results to stand.

Holt 811 &
Some of the Other Questionable Federal Election Legislation

That is one reason that so many of those activists stand against the passage of the once, best-there-was, Rush Holt legislation, that suddenly now allows:
  • increasing amounts of never-studied software to be supposedly "printing" and "counting" "our" votes;
  • to also put bar codes on our votes that we cannot read, and that could even potentially make our votes NON- secret to some (and possibly "non-patriotic" if wished);
  • and that allows the highest election rule and law-makers in the land, the already questionable Election Assistance Commission (EAC), to be solely appointed by the President of the United States!
The EAC was created by the already questionable Help America Vote Act which also ushered in the use of easily riggable, high-cost, privatized electronic voting systems across the nation.

The EAC, Questionable "Testing" for "Accuracy" of E-Voting Machines, and "Voter Fraud"

This April 11, 2007 New York Times article, "Panel said to Alter Finding on Voter Fraud" in its concluding paragraph, said of the EAC:
" In recent months, the commission has been criticized for failing to provide proper oversight of the technology laboratories that test electronic voting machines and software."

As another example, today it was announced that ES&S touchscreen voting systems have been found to be vulnerable to "serious" viral vote-switching, ( the secret software deciding our votes,- not us) but the EAC has refused to issue a warning about that. (April 16-
Diebold calls such vote-switching in their machines the "glitch" of " the calibration problem."

"Voter fraud"
is the deflective, projective and citizen-disempowering term that's frequently used by some law and rule makers, to mistakenly repetitively and widely infer that it's the citizens, the voters, or even election observer volunteers who are the ever-present and growing great danger to fair elections; and by such inference, and skewed studies or misinformation, trying to give even more supposed reason to keep citizens out of the process " - ie. that it 'should" belong in secret to "the top", therefore supposedly the "trustworthy" - to keep it "safe."

It is a term that has given supposed cause for
Voter ID laws passed in Ohio last year, with Ohio's awful HB3, and which since have been passed in about two dozen other states, which studies show are vote suppressing, (especially in the least affluent communities.)

The 4/11 NYT article further about the EAC stated in that earlier article:

"And two weeks ago, the panel faced criticism for refusing to release another report it commissioned concerning voter identification laws. That report, which was released after intense pressure from Congress, found that voter identification laws designed to fight fraud can reduce turnout, particularly among members of minorities. In releasing that report, which was conducted by a different set of scholars, the commission declined to endorse its findings, citing methodological concerns.

A number of election law experts, based on their own research, have concluded that the accusations regarding widespread fraud are unjustified. And in this case, one of the two experts hired to do the report was Job Serebrov, a Republican elections lawyer from Arkansas, who defended his research in an e-mail message obtained by The Times that was sent last October to Margaret Sims, a commission staff member.

“Tova and I worked hard to produce a correct, accurate and truthful report,” Mr. Serebrov wrote, referring to Tova Wang, a voting expert with liberal leanings from the Century Foundation and co-author of the report. “I could care less that the results are not what the more conservative members of my party wanted.”

He added: “Neither one of us was willing to conform results for political expediency.”

These are just some of the reasons that it's urgent that more citizens become involved - even and especially at the local level - to not only vote, but to gain confidence that we're told to have, by watching, participating with, and working a bit for our elections.

Local Opportunities to Get Involved

First off, there are opportunities, in addition to making sure your are properly registered to vote, (call the CCBOE 216-443-3200, and ask for Candidate and Voter Services to find out how, and see the CCBOE website to find out more information about deadlines) and to make sure that the registration has your correct name and address, and that your signature is updated, then voting; and to:
  • become a poll worker;
  • volunteer through respective political parties to become an election observer at the polls;
  • come and watch CCBOE board meetings which will soon again be held at least monthly, and are posted on the CCBOE website, linked on this blog. At the end of the meetings (some of which are held in the evening), there is an opportunity to let your wishes be known, and to ask questions;
  • call the CCBOE for any and all public information that is ours, for any documents you'd like to review - 216-443-3200;
  • make comments on this blog, which I know a few election officials are reading. While I do moderate comments, only those offensive, not to my views, but are sheer, unfounded personal attacks, will not be posted.
  • email me ( for a phone conversation about other ways to get involved;
  • call Secretary of State Brunner's Voting Rights Institute, 614-995-2271, to find out such things as how you can report or solve any voting problems you experience;
  • and more
The Amazing Cuyahoga Election Schedule of Citizen Opportunities
Were you aware that
the upcoming May 8 "small" election will involve about 1/3 of the county with:
24 cities, 168 polling places. 463 precincts. 2,000 pollworkers. and 1,848 voting devices?
For absentee forms, to find out if there is an election in your city, and procedures and deadlines see the CCBOE website, or call there.

And following that May election the CCBOE absentee voting department will be active constantly during business hours, to accommodate the
9 or 10 more elections that will probably happen in our county by the end of 2007?

Below is a list, provided by Interim Director Jane Platten, ( formatting problems, mine) of already planned elections in Cuyahoga County for 2007.

Get involved. It's really important!


February 6, 2007 First special election day for issues only

May 8, 2007
PARTY PRIMARY, if necessary
Newburgh Hts.
Parma City
Parma Judicial
Rocky River Judicial

North Olmsted

May 29, 2007
SPECIAL PRIMARY, if necessary
Cleveland – Ward 21 Only

July 3, 2007
Cleveland - Ward 21 Only

August 7, 2007, if necessary
Second special election day for issues only

September 11,
2007 NONPARTISAN PRIMARY, if necessary
Broadview Hts.

September 18, 2007
PARTY PRIMARY, if necessary
Rocky River City

September 25
2007 PARTY PRIMARY, if necessary
Brook Park

Maple Hts.
Bedford Hts.

October 2, 2007
PARTY PRIMARY, if necessary Berea

Fairview Park
Garfield Hts.
Middleburg Hts.
North Royalton – Mayor & Council President Only
Seven Hills

November 6, 2007 GENERAL ELECTION

December 4, 2007
RUNOFF ELECTION, if necessary
Berea (Mayor)
Highland Hts. (Mayor)
Mayfield Heights (Mayor) no election 2007
North Olmsted (see charter)
Oakwood Village
Olmsted Falls (Mayor) no election 2007
Parma Heights (Mayor) no election 2007
South Euclid (Mayor)
Warrensville Hts. (Mayor)


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