Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ohio county sends voters wrong election date, directions to polls

By Meteor Blades  on Tue Oct 23, 2012  

It was "just a mistake," according to the deputy director of the Republican-run Ottawa County Board of Elections in Ohio. And, you know, I'd really like to believe her. But it's Ohio. The board sent a mailer to 2,300 voters in three northwestern Ohio precincts on Lake Erie near Toledo informing them that their voting location had been moved to a building on the east side of Danbury High School. The actual location is on the west side. Voters were also told Election Day was Nov. 8. It is, of course, Nov. 6.

Normally, one might be willing to give whoever generated that screw-up the benefit of the doubt. But Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who happens to live in Ottawa County, rightly noted, "There is no excuse for a board of elections or Secretary [of State Jon] Husted's office to botch their most basic job, notifying voters when and where to exercise their right to vote." He called upon Husted to review all the board's correspondence for the past year "to ensure that there are no other errors that could disenfranchise voters."

According to the Deputy Director Carol Ann Hill, the board realized the error soon after it sent out postcards to voters and said it was "sending out a new mailer, as we speak, with an apology."

Hill described the error as a "costly mistake," though she said she did not know how it happened, or how much it would cost taxpayers. [...]

"We want people to vote, that is our reason to be here," said Hill. "It was just a mistake. It is troublesome to make a mistake, but there was no effort to suppress the voting of anyone."

Sure. Okay.

Hill's boss, JoAnn Friar, said the mistake was the consequence of substituting text from last year when the election was on Nov. 8.

Asked to explain how two errors were included in one short announcement, she replied, “If you’re going to mess up, do it right.”


Meanwhile, in Maricopa County, Arizona, the Elections Department learned that a document containing the wrong date for the election has gone out to more voters than it originally had explained was the case. The department distributed a document with voter-ID cards in which the date of the election in English was correctly stated as "November 6th," but in Spanish it said "8 de Noviembre," the 8th of November. A spokesperson had said that only people who picked up the document over the counter, not by mail, saw the mistaken date. Perhaps as few as 50 people had received the document, a spokesman said.

Now, however, it turns out that the document went to a larger, unknown number of citizens because it was passed out at three Maricopa locations.

An honest mistake? Perhaps. But, unlike the old days of Jim Crow, voter suppression is now all about shaving vote totals. A couple of percentage points here, a couple there, add up.