Elections Monitor Saw Few Problems in the Tristate
A national elections monitor who visited the Tristate area Tuesday said that, despite scattered problems, he mostly was pleased with how the elections process was carried out.
Paul DeGregorio, chairman of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, strolled through the Hamilton County Board of Elections’ offices downtown Tuesday night as ballots were being tallied. The visit was part of a whirlwind tour of polling places and board offices he conducted in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky on Election Day.
The Washington, D.C.-based commission was established as part of the Help America Vote Act passed by Congress in 2002 to implement election reforms in the wake of the disputed and contentious presidential election from two years earlier. The commission is supposed to assist in the administration of federal elections. Its duties include providing technical guidance, administering payments to states to replace punch card voting systems and maintaining the national mail voter registration form created in 1993 as part of the so-called “motor voter” reforms.
Despite reports of computer glitches in Cuyahoga County and missing ballots from at least two precincts in the city of Cincinnati, DeGregorio generally was satisfied with how elections were carried out in the three states.
“It’s been a good day,” DeGregorio said Tuesday night. “Turnout has been very good, and there have been just a few problems in the three states. We think there’s been a lot of apprehension (about the election process). We think that people will have more hope and trust in the system after today’s election.”
Some problems in the voting process are inevitable, DeGregorio said, when the system involves about 183,000 polling places nationwide and 1.2 million poll workers spanning 6,700 separate election jurisdictions. More often than not, the glitches are the result of human error, he added.
“I’m satisfied that (the election is) fair and legal, and I am certainly satisfied that people can trust the results,” DeGregorio said. “There are glitches. There have been glitches of people waking up late or forgetting their keys to open the polling places.”
Some political observers and party leaders at the board’s offices Tuesday night were upset that tabulating results took so long, with substantial numbers of ballots not being counted until nearly 11 p.m. One high-ranking party leader, who asked not to be named, blamed the delay on the use of optical scanning voting equipment. Counting those types of ballots take much longer than traditional punch card ballots, often requiring the ballots to be entered a few times into tabulating machines before they are actually recorded. He called the switch to the optical scanning system an “over-reaction” to the problems encountered in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
DeGregorio, however, defended the optical scanning machines.
“It’s easier to set up more booths to serve more voters,” he said. “Filling in a little box is not asking a lot of people to cast a ballot.”
DeGregorio’s chief concern about the election process is the need to involve more young people as poll workers, particularly as the technology used becomes more sophisticated. Many poll workers nationwide are elderly and have served in their roles for 40 years or more, he added.
— Kevin Osborne