Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘Voting Rights’ tag

With The Right To Vote Comes Great Responsibility

without comments

 

A friend sent me this article from the Plain Dealer concerning voting, poll workers and not much else.  I have served as a poll worker for Cuyahoga County and I can agree that the biggest reason for a provisional vote not counting was probably because the person was in the wrong voting location.  I can say with great certainty that NO ONE at my voting location was “possibly just a table away”.  How insulting for the thousands of citizens who take the time to become poll workers to suggest that they would turn a voter away when the precinct needed was in THEIR voting location. Shame on Olivera Perkins, Plain Dealer reporter, for suggesting such a thing.

Before I begin, I will say this,  the training in Cuyahoga County is considerably better under director Jane Platten where actual people who have “been there, done that” teach the classes.   In fact, we went over the provisional ballot in depth.   The training provided under Michael Vu which consisted of “hired guns” from local universities and community colleges was woefully inadequate.  At that session, when I asked  my “trainer” about provisional ballots as he was concluding the class,  his answer to me was “oh don’t worry about that they will be the exception”.  Although Provisional Balloting was a line item on our training schedule, we did not have the “time” to treat it. 

My first case scenario:  A woman comes to the voting location insists that she is registered to vote and has been for years.  When asked the last time she voted, she has no idea.  When asked if she registered from where she lives now she has no idea.  She demands to vote.  She says she has the right to vote.  She is correct.  She is given a provisional ballot.  She votes.  Did her vote count?  I doubt it.

Second case scenario:  A man comes to the polling place which is his “old” polling place.  The BOE has changed his voting location.  We explain that he is in the wrong place.  Tell him his NEW polling location.  He insists he does not have the time to go anywhere else.  Says “I have the right to vote.  I want to vote here.  Give me a provisional ballot.”  We explain that he is in the wrong place, his precinct is no longer located here and his vote will not count because it will be rejected for being in “the wrong precinct”.  He insists.  He votes.  Did his vote count?  I doubt it.

Third case scenario:    A young couple comes to our voting location. They just moved into the area.  They registered to vote.  They didn’t receive the voter location card sent from the BOE or least they don’t think so.  A poll worker takes them out of line asks where do they live?  They tell her the street.  She takes them to the Ward map posted on the wall.  None of the three recognizes much of anything on the map.  The poll worker asks the presiding judge for help, that’s me.

I walk over to the map.  Look at it.  I’ve lived in this Ward for 25 years.  I don’t recognize the streets.  Then we notice that our map is part our Ward and part of a ward in Fairview Park.  I tell her that she needs to call the Board of Elections.  She does.  She is put on hold. She is disconnected. She calls again.  She is put on hold.  This time she gets the correct location for voting.  Twenty-five minutes later the young couple leaves to vote for the first time as a couple. Did their votes count?  Yes.       

I would say to people who register to vote that you have only taken the first step in your “right to vote”.  The second more important step is TO VOTE.  Voting regularly keeps the federal law of not voting in the past two federal elections a moot point.

VOTING EARLY at the Board of Elections  should be an option. IF you haven’t voted in years and you are not sure you are registered, it is worth a shot, but don’t be surprised if you are NOT on the pollbooks and you CANNOT vote.  The other reason for voting early would be TIME.  We are all pressed for time.  If you cannot afford the time to have a twenty minute wait to vote on election day, VOTE EARLY. And, DO NOT wait until the end of the day to vote on election if you are not sure WHERE you should vote.  You may not have enough time to travel to the right polling place before the polls close.

If you registered to vote for the first time, call the Board of Elections for your polling place BEFORE election day.  Be prepared.

If you moved and registered at a new location, be sure to call the Board of Elections and find out your NEW polling place.  Do not rely on snail mail to get your polling place to you before election day.

When the emphasis is placed on a pollworker to KNOW where each and every voter is to vote rather on the VOTER knowing where he or she should be to vote, we have contributed to long lines, inefficient elections, and undermined the trust of our election process. 

With our constitutional right of voting comes the responsibility for each voter to know where they should go to vote, to research the issues before going to the polls so that they can make their vote quickly and efficiently, and to be thankful that they have the opportunity to vote without fear of reprisal.             

Written by Gloria Ferris

October 9th, 2008 at 9:54 am