Absentee Request Forms For Voting And Websites In Ohio Have Problems

Absentee Request Forms for Voting and Websites in Ohio Have Problems

By Paddy Shaffer
Director, The Ohio Election Justice Campaign

February 3, 2008

Last night I received information from several of our wonderful alert election activists in Dayton, Ohio, that Montgomery County's Board of Elections has a problem with it's online absentee ballot request form. It seems that if you fill it in as a Democrat, it won't hold that information on the form. If you fill it in as a Republican, an Other Party (and you must specify that party), or that you are voting only on issues, it will retain the check mark for that information. The website is at: http://www.mcboe.org/ .

The problem here is that if you know you checked the box before printing the form off, many people might not go back and check the boxes after it is printed off. If you didn't tell them you want a Democratic Party ballot to vote absentee on, and nothing is checked... what will you get? Is Voting in Ohio a game of skill, or a game of chance?

Here is an article on this that showed up yesterday:

I made the request to some of my Ohio researchers to comb through the websites for our 88 counties to look at the absentee forms for requesting an absentee ballot. I was pleased to wake up this morning and find most of that work already completed by Jennifer Alexander.

While she was looking, she also reported on the health of the websites, and a report on all of this will be coming soon for the nation to see. Of importance now to all of you... surprise, surprise (imagine Gomer Pyle saying this), Ohio has problems, and your state might also.

One county, Shelby says to fax the form in. For Warren (the Homeland Security Lockdown County) and Montgomery it says: "NO FAXED ABSENTEE APPLICATION REQUESTS ARE PERMITTED BY LAW". Some counties ask for you to qualify to be allowed to vote absentee, and only people with a few predetermined reasons can ask for an absentee ballot. Ohio has for the last several years had a no-fault absentee ballot, anyone can request one, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is promoting it.

One county is asking for the full Social Security number, when they are only allowed to ask for the last four digits. It is enough to say, the whole country needs combed over. If others are able to get this done, let me know. We could combine the reports to give an overview on the health of the nation on the websites and applications for absentee ballots, and voter registration forms. If anyone is able to undertake this, please let me know.

In 2006, Sherole Eaton and I gathered the voter registration forms from many of Ohio's counties from public libraries. This is one of the places that then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's website said to pick up such a form. Some of the forms were adequate, but many of the forms were outdated, asking for information no longer needed, or not asking for the current identification requirements. If a voter sent those in, the election officials would not have the right information to register the voter.

Please look at the data in your state, and if you get that done, and can adopt another state, please do so. We are all in this together. Sink or swim. Please let me know what states are being studied, and we will work out a way to file a group report. Thanks!