Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ballot "Proofing" at the CCBOE

Yesterday, I posted the CCBOE media release

With no BOE help available, and no signage for this "public event", the lovely camera woman who was there from Ohio News Network to follow the story of how many people showed up for the proofing, had to point me to the specific pile she had seen the one other person who had come directed to. Cheryl Ellis, the Community Outreach woman whose name was on the media release for information, saw me and waved and left the building shortly after I walked in. Two others disappeared into the Community Outreach office.

I sat down to plow my way through to "proof" to find the approximate first 200 sheets, all of the Democratic Primary for the Clerk of Rocky River Court, with what appeared to be the exact same ballot, just with the two candidate's names alternating first position, and the indecipherable, but changing "BOE-speak" versioning code at the top.
Most citizens choosing to come to proof, to take advantage of this right, but not familiar with the BOE, would not have even recognized that alternating candidate positioning as the position rotation per precinct, as demanded by Ohio law.
Most would have had to give up right there. Some in that situation, might have also mistakenly ascribed their lack of understanding to themselves, and walked away, saying everything was good.

Having enough CCBOE experience to know this was typical and know it was not my lack, I asked again for help. Another in Community Outreach said she couldn't help. She didn't know about the ballots.The lovely camera woman then pointed me to a woman who was picking up other papers from the other end of the table, telling me that she was the woman who had helped the man who had come to proof earlier.
When I asked that "helper" however, she said she couldn't help me, because she didn't know about the ballots. We were being filmed.

ONN's watching reporter, Brian McIntyre went into the Community Outreach office to get the last person there, who said he didn't know either, but he went to get Matt, the head of the Ballot Department.
By the time Matt arrived, I had found the small precinct codes, again indecipherable to the unfamiliar, but which allowed me to be able to figure out basically what I was looking at.

Matt came and explained that, yes, Rocky River Courts should have 143 or 149 precincts, (I don't remember,) thus the same number of pieces of paper. There were far more Rocky River sheets than 149, however. It was getting late, I didn't count. In retrospect, and had I the time, I should have. It is these small details reflective of much larger systemic problems that capture the board's attention, while they deny the broader view.

I checked a few of the similarly repeated issue papers, like the Independence levy.
But I never really proofed anything. It was impossible. Even had the pile been easily found and understood, four to five hundred sheets of anything is far from a any citizen, "stop-in" PROOFING situation.
I did ask Matt if his department had proofed. He said, especially after last election, yes they had. They had a team of whiz-bang temps go over the ballots carefully. They had found many mistakes on the first round, and after about four rounds and finally moved commas, etc. thought they were right.
I didn't even ask how they got all the ballots that were supposed to be the same, the same; ie. if they had to proof each one of the approximate 500 ballot styles individually, or if they had made global changes as each change was found necessary.

At the CCBOE, having to change each one individually is still a strong possibility. Adapting to their being paid to work for citizens, for accurate, fair, transparent elections for citizen's elections, not just or the sake of getting a CCBOE task done for the CCBOE seems still a foreign concept.

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