Saturday, November 27, 2004

Election officials gave wrong information about provisional ballots

Election officials gave wrong information about provisional ballots - revealed in affidavit.

by Neil F. Schoenwetter, Jr.
November 25, 2004

The following is the affidavit by:
Neil F. Schoenwetter, Jr., Summit County, Ohio:

As a "challenger" for the Democratic party, I was at a polling place that contained six precincts. I was there from 630 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. At at least four of the six precincts, elections judges were telling potential voters that they could cast a provisional ballot at any table/precinct and it would be counted. I tried, unsuccessfully to point out the judges' error, including showing them three or four signs posted on the wall that said specifically that provisional ballots must be cast at the proper precinct. I observed at least two, maybe three, voters being given provisional ballots at/from the wrong precinct -- despite the fact that the correct precinct was only feet away. (We were able to convince these voters to go to the correct precinct (and stand in line again). Since there were six precincts in this one location, I am sure that many, many provisional ballots were given to voters in the wrong precinct. I witnessed one voter who decided to cast a provisional ballot in the incorrect precinct because she wanted to believe the incorrect poll worker instead of trusting me -- who she clearly believed to be partisan (especially since I was legally labeled as a "challenger" (and the fact that it was Republican "challengers" who had been accused in the media as trying to disenfranchise.)) Additionally, she would have had to travel a mile to the correct location.

At or about 11:30 a.m., two gentlemen who identified themselves as election supervisors from the board of elections stopped by. (I don't have there names with me at this moment, but I do have them recorded and will be able to provide them.) I informed them of the election judges' errors and asked them to re-instruct the poll workers. They assured me that ANY PROVISIONAL BALLOT THAT WAS CAST IN THE COUNTY WOULD BE COUNTED; THEY DID NOT HAVE TO BE CAST AT ANY PARTICULAR PRECINCT. I was forceful (pointing out the signs). They refused to budge, and demanded to see my credentials --- hoping, I think to eject me from the polling place. They left, saying that they had to visit (and, I assume, incorrectly instruct) 56(?) other precincts.

I am certain, that because of incorrect instructions given by poll workers, election judges, and supervisors, there are many provisional ballots cast by eligible voters, that will not be counted because they were "cast" at the incorrect location.