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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Voting Early -- Questions About Process at the Scioto Board of Elections




My wife and I voted at the Scioto County Courthouse the other day in the Board of Elections Office. Casting a ballot there is easy. The office asks your name; your address; the last four digits of your Social Security number; and since this is a primary, which ballot you wish to use. The entire process takes just a few minutes. We found the workers friendly and very helpful. For added convenience, the office even had voting stations installed in the courthouse lobby.

I must admit, I had a couple of questions about the process of voting early there.

First of all, unlike voting at the polls, the Board of Elections requires no proof of ID -- the standard driver's license or legal identification card required to vote. I find this strange since names, addresses, and even other personal information like the last digits of a person's SS number can be easily obtained. I wonder what exactly prevents a crooked person from acquiring the needed identification and fraudulently using it to vote more than one time. Identity theft is a crime of great concern, especially these days with the boon of electronic devices.

Secondly, after voting on a standard ballot, we were required to place the ballot in an envelope that featured our names on the outside (and, I believe, our address) and then deposit the envelope containing the ballot into a box that I was told would eventually be emptied for tabulation. I did not like openly attaching my name to the envelope since it contained my secret ballot. I thought: "How easy for someone to identify my ballot, read it, or even possibly alter my vote." Also a number was written on the envelope -- I assume this notation referred to the number of ballots cast.

Now, rest assured, the workers there told me everything was perfectly fine, and nobody would examine my ballot; however, doesn't this process completely destroy the legitimacy of a "secret" vote? I wonder who set up the process and if the Board needs to review it. Just call me paranoid, but I do treasure my right to vote, and I expect that right to be honored with privacy.

In relation to our voting outing, I read a recent article in the Daily Times about absentee voting. It stated "Republicans are out-voting Democrats in absentee voting in Scioto County through March 4. The Scioto County Board of Elections has received 1,153 absentee ballot applications – 646 from Republicans – 474 by Democrats, while 33 have requested issues only ballots in the county."

The article also said, "In early voting, of the 558 people who have cast absentee ballots by mail, 285 are Republicans and 263 are Democrats, with 10 casting issues only ballots. When it comes to absentee voting in person, 444 have done so – 238 of those were Republicans and 206 were Democrats, with no one voting an issues only ballot in person."

Then, the article reported figures on statewide absentee ballots.
 
(Frank Lewis. "More Republicans voting absentee than Democrats."
Daily Times. March 08, 2016.)

I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong about posting this article, nor am I claiming the figures quoted are misleading. The information is readily available online from the Ohio Secretary of State. I guess I am wondering about the need to know. If this reporting somehow draws public attention to the necessity of voting -- something I think is very important -- I am very supportive. Yet, what is the actual purpose of citing these figures in any political sense?

I'm an old geezer who hates automated political messages and phone calls that poll information about my vote. I think people should educate themselves about candidates and issues without all the impersonal appeals from candidates, parties, and polling firms. To me, the more irritating calls I receive, the less likely I am to support someone or something behind them. That is the old grouch in me confirming my discomfort with phone canvassing and other "pitch" calls.

At any rate, please vote. I believe our obligation is evident. Unless we cast a vote, we risk the real possibility that our democratic government does not reflect the will of the majority. In one way, each vote equalizes the voice of America. Choices exist, but we must be willing to respond and cast our ballots.



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