The Ohio Election Justice Campaign - Election Education Program
Paddy Shaffer, Director, OEJC – On behalf of the OEJC Teachers, December 8, 2007
We write today as part of the Ohio Election Justice Campaigns Election Education Program to take a close look at another unfolding election issue in Ohio. With the year 2008, a presidential election year only 22 days away, big decisions are unfolding. The public as yet is in the dark as to issues of our voting machines that are being done on our dime, by our representatives, and for which we may all have to live with the results.
I have included below a written request to the Ohio Secretary Of State for the written documents that will inform the public and the OEJC of the parties, process, and timeline involved with the decision on the Project Everest testing of electronic voting systems. It is included below so this is a full educational document, with some background history so as to be as informative as possible. Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller for requesting we provide an explanation to accompany our record requests that we openly share. Please use this information to teach others. As of this date, we have no idea of how these decisions from the testing will be made, nor who exactly will make them.
The Ohio Election Justice Campaign is pleased to say that since contact was made to Mr. Brian Green, Election Council at the office of the Ohio Secretary of State, via phone on 12-5-07 and the follow up call and letter to the SOS office. We requested information on the timeline, policies and procedures for the decisions made on our voting machines, and we are now seeing a responses to these issues coming via the Dispatch and the Plain Dealer
Background: The Project Everest Testing is the testing of the electronic voting systems in Ohio. When the testing was announced, Jennifer Brunner said she would not be making the final decision on what to do with the voting systems.
Rather, she said she was sending the report and recommendations to the governor (Strickland – D) and the legislative leadership for them to decide. In Ohio, the legislative leadership is still Republican dominated, and they are not inclined to fully acknowledge the problems with Ohio’s elections.
The Project Everest report was to be completed on Friday, December 7. It is to be made public and distributed to the governor and legislative leadership on Friday, December 14, 2007.
There has been little citizen input on Project Everest, since observers had to sign a ten-year confidentiality agreement and citizens on the Voting Rights Institute have not been included – at least not fully – in this testing project from its very beginning.
The OEJC repeatedly requested to observe the testing via Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Nance. Our multiple verbal and written requests were not answered until we received a letter two days after the last day of testing, with a letter dated for the final day of testing. In it our request to observe was denied, with no explanation given.
As indicated by our last press release, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/11/prweb571204.htm the recommendations on the report were being made by the SOS in conjunction with Board of Elections officials suggested by a lobbyist. Our press release also detailed what we consider to be the troubling history of the majority of the BOE officials so selected to make recommendations.
Because this overall decision-making process is outside the normal course of decision-making in a democracy -- there are no formal or written guidelines in place as there would be, for example, with a legislative bill -- we are especially concerned that the decision-making process be open and subject to public observation/comment.
The Ohio legislature, which has been slow this year, is scheduled to go into recess at the end of next week. According to a public report on the legislature, the speaker (Husted – R) has prevented bills from coming to the floor.
According to the same report, “there may not be a need today for as many session days, noting that so much of the debate now goes on behind the scenes, instead of during committee or floor votes. Unlike in the past, he said, bills are more often packed into single legislation . . . .” http://daytonos.com/?p=582.