Ohio: Suit Filed for Election Observers,
"Dial Up" Provisional Ballots, and a Comment
(Wash. DC) With the help of the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC), Robert Owens, Independent candidate for Attorney General and Delaware County, Ohio attorney filed suit Friday, Oct. 31 in Delaware Common Pleas Court to open up the presidential election to independent observers. The OEJC alone has observers at polling places in 87 of Ohio's 88 counties to document events and encourage fair and legally compliant elections. But Delaware County is saying no to these citizen witnesses.
This prompted Owens to file a complaint in local court for "declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus and, an application for preliminary injunction to force Delaware to open up its elections.
OEJC Director Paddy Shaffer is a "recovering Democrat that feels like an independent now,"and Owens is the Chairman of Ohio's conservative Constitution Party. This mirrors Ohio's 2004 election controversy during which the Green and Libertarian parties worked in unison to demand a recount.
The county has been the focus of concern about elections for some time. Research by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD, showed numerous reasons for concern about Delaware County during the 2004 election and aftermath. His research is part of an ongoing federal lawsuit claiming election fraud against Kenneth Blackwell and others in the 2004 Ohio presidential election.
The problems in Delaware County included records indicating that multiple precincts had between 80 and 360 consecutive voters standing in line to vote for George W. Bush, an incredibly unlikely event. The county reported 20,000 more registrations than there were voters on the rolls.
When Dr. Phillips appeared at the Delaware County elections board to examine ballots, his prerogative under Ohio law, board officials called the police several times asking that he be evicted.
The hearing is scheduled for today (Nov. 3) at noon.
Stark County, Home of the "Dial Up" Provisional Ballot
North Canton, Ohio, located in Stark County, is the home of Premier Election Systems. The elections division of Diebold changed its name but continues as a wholly owned subsidiary.
Paddy Shaffer discovered a pre-election policy that guarantees a provisional ballot for voters who simply call the county board of elections and request the location of their precinct. Shaffer discovered this policy during an Oct. 29 conversation with a county elections worker. Shaffer asked for confirmation that the sentence below was what the elections employee said. She was told that this was the statement made and the policy of the county board of elations:
"Anyone that calls their Board of Elections office to find out where they are to vote gets flagged and when they vote they will vote a provisional ballot."
This concerned Shaffer for several reasons. Provisional ballots are a second class form of voting designed for those who show up at the wrong precinct. Those voters are given a special ballot to cast their vote. The ballot is considered "provisional" until verification is obtained that the voter is a registered in another precinct. These ballots require special research by the board of elections or special actions. In Ohio last election, 22% provisional ballots were not counted. Those that are ultimately counted don't show up in election night totals.
The automatic issuance of a provisional ballot simply for making a call to the board of elections about a precinct location takes voters' ballots out of the vital Election Day vote count, and creates a one in five chance that those ballots simply won't be counted.