Ohio Secretary of State Report on March Primary Elections
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By Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner
June 18, 2008
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The administration of elections in 2008 showed vast improvement from the 2004 presidential primary election. The first directive issued by this administration in February 2007, Directive 2007-01, established minimum qualifications for all directors and deputies (See Appendix III, page 263). In December 2007 the secretary of state’s Ethics Policy (See Appendix III, page 295) was adopted. This policy provides guidance to members and employees of county boards of elections, poll workers, employees, and appointees of the secretary of state to clearly state expectations and legal requirements for complying with the state’s ethics law and working in such a manner so as to ensure public confidence in the state’s elections.
Overall the county boards of elections performed exceedingly well in the March 4, 2008 primary election. A record high 46% of eligible voters turned out for this presidential primary (3,603,523 of the 7,826,480 registered voters in Ohio) to cast their ballots. Over 500,000 voters (approximately 14% of the primary election’s voters) voted by absentee ballot, taking advantage of the recent change in state law that does not require a reason to vote absentee.ii The professionalism and emergency planning by boards of elections allowed them to overcome unforgiving weather conditions, power outrages, bomb threats and late evening court orders.
In addition to the directive for backup paper ballots, other directives provided instruction and guidance on ID requirements for voters, absentee voting, provisional voting, proper procedures for processing absent voter’s ballots prior to Election Day, unofficial and official canvass procedures, recount procedures, and post-election audit procedures. (See Appendix III, Directives and Appendix VII, Court Orders, page 511) In addition, instructions were provided for polling place security and chain of custody procedures for transporting voting equipment, ballots and election supplies, as well as instructions on the proper procedures for encryption of security cards for DREs. Secretary of state advisories provided information and instructions on the presence of observers in polling places, polling place conduct, media access to polling locations and
exit polling. (See Appendix IV, page 441)
The newly created Voting Rights Institute in the secretary of state’s
office fielded hundreds of calls throughout Election Day in response to
4 million information cards supplied to boards of elections for
distribution at polling places that provided voters with telephone
numbers and e-mail addresses for questions and concerns about their
election experience. This newly created avenue of communication allowed
the secretary of state’s office to assist voters to ensure
County boards of elections were instructed by directive to call their
assigned election attorney in the secretary of state’s office in the
case of machine failure or ballot shortage. Sixteen full-time regional
liaisons were on call throughout the state and assisted boards of
elections, responding to their questions and concerns and conduced spot
checks of polling places for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Additional areas of focus before the November presidential election are
the development and implementation of “best practices” for security of
voting equipment, ballots and related supplies, as well as continued
development of board of elections staff and poll worker training
materials and curriculum. Collaboration has already begun between the
Ohio Association of Election Officials and the secretary of state’s
office to discuss and develop improved security practices. The
secretary of state’s office will continue to improve and standardize
the directives and advisories issued to boards of elections to further clarify expectations and application of the law
for what is expected to be a record turnout for the November general
election to be held November 4, 2008.
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