Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Not incompetence, intentional vote fraud. Isolated case? I don't think so.

Voting problems prompt retraining of poll workers

Hundreds in Hamilton Co. will be trained again, but 163 won't be asked back

Hundreds of Hamilton County poll workers will be retrained – and 163 “retired” – as a result of voting problems in the 2012 election.
That includes 94 workers at 16 precincts that will be completely restaffed because of a high number of errors.
The others failed to vote themselves and/or performed poorly on Election Day.
Those 163 poll workers represent about 5.6 percent of poll workers – the most ever who aren’t being asked back.
The move comes as board of elections officials continue to work to find the 2,905 poll workers needed to staff the county’s 545 polling locations.
The Enquirer obtained the list of problem poll workers and found that 94of them who worked at 16 polling locations won’t be asked back because they allowed 15 or more votes to be cast at the wrong precinct or in the wrong location.
Records show that, overall, 1,931 votes were cast at the wrong precinct or in the wrong location.
The polling location at the Corryville library branch had the most of any precinct with 43.
It’s impossible to know how many of those were the result of poll worker error, but the board of elections said it was unacceptable. The 16 precincts accounted for 414 of the 1,931 problem provisional votes.
An Enquirer review showed all but one of the 16 polling locations that are being re-staffed have a Democratic precinct judge, the presiding authority at a polling site.
But those 94 workers are an equal mix of Democrats and Republicans because polling locations are set up with a balance from each party.
An Enquirer analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data found that, of the 23 census tracts the troubled precincts include, 13 are predominantly black and 10 are predominantly white.

Poll worker's prison sentence put spotlight on Hamilton Co.

The Enquirer also found:
• Six workers at the Madisonville Recreation Center aren’t being asked back because they scored poorly on 11 of the 26 areas assessed.
The precinct judge there, Melowese Richardson, was convicted of voter fraud last month and sentenced to five years in prison. The assessment said there were “multiple fights in the precinct with workers and voters,” one worker refused to work “due to his hurt hand” and poll workers called board headquarters six times with issues.
• 29 won’t be asked back because an assessment of their work showed they don’t vote. The county’s four board of elections members said voting should be a prerequisite to processing other people’s votes.
• 34 won’t be asked back after complaints and notes from Election Day that all poll workers keep showed they weren’t performing up to standards. Some were using outdated procedures, ignoring recent directives.
The assessment, done based on a 2010 order from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, has been ongoing for months.
But the five-year prison sentence for longtime Hamilton County poll worker Richardson for illegally voting has thrust the training and oversight of poll workers into the spotlight.
“When you see all of these mistakes continuing to be made in particular precincts, we have to look very hard at how we can correct that so it doesn’t happen in the future,” said Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke, who is also the county’s Democratic Party chairman. “We do extensive training. In spite of that, it’s clear from the review there are a significant number of poll workers who need to be replaced.”

'I'm hurt,' says poll worker of 35 years who was let go

Two of the poll workers not being asked back told The Enquirer they were shocked and felt unfairly targeted.
“I’m hurt,” said Eileen Willis.
Willis, 74, of Madisonville, has been a poll worker for more than 35 years. . She loved seeing neighbors and looked forward to election days. But the last two elections, she said, the board of elections moved her and she ended up working at the same polling location as Richardson.
“They knew there were problems,” Willis said. None of them, she said, was the result of her work.
“To work there all this time and for them to let me go mainly because of Melowese’s behavior isn’t fair,” Willis said.
Board of elections staff pointed out the assessment showed the problem extended beyond Richardson, and that the polling location had problems as a team.
Margaret Benning, who was retired for not voting, said that allegation isn’t true. The 75-year-old Reading woman said she worked at a Reading polling location and on a break she walked across the gym to vote at her precinct.
She said she called the board of elections to complain about being retired, but it did her no good. They told her she didn’t sign the signature book, but she insists she did.
“I think they are trying to get younger people, but good luck. Most of them are working full time and can’t take off to work at the polls,” Benning said.
Hamilton County trains poll workers every year, despite a state mandate that requires it only every other year.
Burke added there is no suggestion that any of the problems were done deliberately to disenfranchise voters.
“But the fact of the matter is if a poll worker sends a voter to the wrong precinct – even though it’s done innocently – that may cost that voter the right to have their vote counted,” he said.
Republican board of elections member Chip Gerhardt agreed with Burke.
“Our front-line people are the poll workers,” Gerhardt said. “It is incumbent on us as an organization to ensure that they are handling the election in the most appropriate manner possible.”
While the glitches affected a tiny fraction of the nearly 422,000 votes cast in the November election, Hamilton County’s voting problems are magnified because of Ohio – and the county’s – significance in national elections.
“There are more and more responsibilities and Ohio is under greater and greater scrutiny in terms of making sure we run a good, clean, fair election,” said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“Arguably the most important people in doing that are our poll workers. ... We need more than a warm body there.”

'We can't afford to have substandard poll workers'

To help counties find qualified poll workers, Husted’s office now allows high school students to work the polls and last year the office gave out $700,000 in poll worker training grants aimed at improving poll worker quality.
“We can’t afford to have substandard poll workers,” Husted said. “The integrity of our elections is too important.”
In the assessment, Hamilton County looked at 26 criteria from minor things like whether supplies were picked up and the polls opened and closed on time to more serious matters like provisional votes and ballot accounting.
The board has adopted rules that call for a mandatory pass/fail test at the end of each training class, with one opportunity to retake the test after a failing grade.
Cuyahoga County has been testing poll workers since 2007.
“This is very helpful because we know immediately if they are prepared to work on election day and have retained the knowledge required to successfully perform their duties,” said Mike West, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections media and voter education specialist.
Cuyahoga County did a poll worker assessment of its 7,160 poll workers after the 2012 presidential election.
The 131 poll workers with marginal scores were told they had to go through training again if they wanted to return, West said.
Mary Siegel, co-leader of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project and a Hamilton County poll worker, said the elections board is obligated to replace poll workers who are incapable of doing their jobs, no matter the reason.
“The integrity of the election is only as good as the poll workers that enforce the rules,” Siegel said.
“Incapable poll workers put an unreasonable burden on the other poll workers and allow errors and fraud to occur.” ■

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