Diana Mairose is a voting rights advocate who works as an Advocacy Support Advisor for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services.
Ohio is often the spotlight on Election Day, and this year was no different. Hamilton County, in particular, gained much statewide attention—not because of hotly contested local races or ballot issues, but because of a glitch in new technology at the polls.
The problems were immediately noticed when people were signing in electronically to vote, where they were told they could not vote or were forced to vote provisionally. Media reported on this as it happened; people found out before they went to the polls. The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to the Hamilton County Board of Elections urging them to address these issues immediately.
The courts extended polling location hours. However, we’ll never know how many people were left out of the election due to the chaos. There were four problems in Hamilton County that contributed to Election Day chaos:
- When preparing the technology, there was a registration cutoff date for first-time voters in Hamilton County. The cutoff date was entered incorrectly, excluding as many as 11,000 voters.
- Due to a typing error that was not accurate, there was confusion with the software. The software was new to poll workers and voters. The software had to be exact with finding the name and information of each voter.
- Wi-fi slowed down the process in using a state ID or driver’s license to read the information while signing in at the polling location to get your ballot.
- Language for a back-up plan confused many poll workers. Poll workers were not sure when to notify the Board of Elections or how to react to the emergency. Inadequate poll worker training contributed to workers not knowing when to open paper sign-in sheet backups or what happens when reading barcodes on the IDs didn’t work.
Training is very important in becoming a poll worker. As a person with a disability, I feel we need to educate and train our next generation of leaders, those who turn 18.
I voted by using an absentee ballot. Personally, I did not have any issues on Election Day. Voters and poll workers were used to the old technology.
Training is very important in becoming a poll worker. As a person with a disability, I feel we need to educate and train our next generation of leaders, those who turn 18. We need to include people with disabilities in becoming poll workers. They understand technology by using it daily.
We are less than two months away from the voter registration deadline for the 2016 Primary Election on February 16. It is my great hope that the problems seen in Hamilton County will not deter anyone from visiting their voting booth and that the local boards of elections will use this as a learning opportunity. I hope everyone will continue to use their voice by voting.