2004 Ballot Recount: Observer Report
- December 15, 2004:
Report by Green Party Observer
"Portage County gets 2 thumbs up and an A+. Please tell everyone to maintain faith in the process... some Boards do have their act more than together!"
Green Party Observer
December 15, 2004:
Report by Green Party Observer
The Portage County recount took place from 8:30 AM to 7:45 PM on December 14, 2004. Although we have yet to count the signature books, we do have full access to them starting tomorrow. I will organize my team of volunteers to begin this process. Regarding our not having access to them until now, I do believe it is just an unusual request, and they still need to guarantee their integrity until they have processed them into the voters permanent files. I have been trying to get access to them since Nov. 7th as a volunteer for Ohio Vigilance, but am confident after yesterday, talking to both Board of elections full and part time, bi-partisan staff, they just want to finish processing them to complete count, and do data entry into the voters files. They have to hire more part time employees to do this, and are NOT trying to hide ANYTHING!
Portage County BOE Director Lois Enlow, will begin a rotating schedule for our volunteers counting the signature books starting tomorrow. I will add those numbers to my report as they come in for the entire county.
We had full access, to see the tabulating test, they ran a 57 card deck that included one under vote for each precinct included in the 3% full hand count counted in plain site, in a small room were it would have been impossible not to see anything .The tabulating machines were stand alone, and only connected to each other.
The 3% Hand count precincts, although not truly ascertained completely randomly, were chosen randomly of those that fit population numbers to get to the 3%, and came from random demographics representing both Dem wins and Rep wins.
It is my understanding this meets State Law guidelines, and is considered acceptable. This seemed reasonable, and we were NOT requesting the inclusion of any problem precincts for the 3 % hand count, as due in great part to their bi-partisan election day system they have at the Portage County Board of Elections.
To add, there were no problem precincts in Portage County, as reported by any of the oversight groups on election day. This was confirmed by Dem Lawyer Don McTigue, and I am satisfied with their choice of precincts to include with the 3%, and the very competent process that was conducted for it.
It is my firm belief, we should be broadcasting far and wide that Portage County is an example of how honest, fair, accurate and transparent elections, conducted by bi-partisan teams can truly occur. Their entire Board of Directors was present the entire time, and a few verbal digs to the process aside, were professional, cordial, interested, and maintained their sense of humor.
The employees acted like a well trained, well oiled machine, smoothly going above and beyond by doing a full visual inspection of all ballots cast in the county with our witnesses, and a full tabulated re-count of the entire county in addition to the full hand recount of 3 % of the precincts. All ballot boxes were locked and reopened, locked and re-opened again, always in plain sight and transported methodically from the visual inspection area to the tabulator room. Everyone was treated with respect, allowed to see anything they missed, and could set the pace as they, the witnesses, requested.
The only thing that I feel that could have been negotiated differently, was the intention of the County to conduct this visual inspection of all the ballots in the county, as the additional witnesses required had to be found within a less than 24 hour framework. Not a major problem, but a professional courtesy issue.
We were given hours until completion to complete a full inspection of all rejected provisional and absentee ballots, allowing us to manually copy addresses of all those rejected in wrong precinct and for no signature. It was obvious by the notes on these ballots, that Portage county board employees and officials went out of their way to look up wrong addresses written on ballots by the voters, in both their system, and the Haines directory to find these folks, and count their votes. They sent cards to address listed on absentee ballots filed by voter incorrectly, and had those requests attached to each ballot.
The under votes we were asked to look for, were seen up close in the hand count as the voters choice NOT to vote for anyone for president. There were votes for local issues on these ballots, and the numbers were few and fell well within normal range of voting patterns.
At the end of the evening, the numbers on the tabulators screens, matched the hand count, which matched the final report sent to the tabulating computer. We took the numbers off the screens of the counting machines, as they ran each precinct in Portage County through. Precinct by precinct we compared those totals to election nights results in a long well witnessed process. There was one ballot that was soiled in this process, and they immediately re-made it to the best of their ability in plain site.
They are truly a wonderful example. And it is my firm testament. We should just as widely broadcast the EXCELLENT Boards, in addition to our admonishing the problematic ones.
It was an amazing experience; I will post my full report as soon as I transcribe all our notes.
Portage County gets 2 thumbs up and an A+. Please tell everyone to maintain faith in the process... some Boards do have their act more than together!