Ohio Voting Has Built-In Safeguards

Linda Gates, Alison Ricker, Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, League of Women Voters

To the Editors:

Ohio voters should not be concerned that their ballots will not be counted as the voter intended, because Ohio laws and procedures protect the integrity of the ballot.

For the past 10 years, Ohio law has required that every ballot must have a paper record that can be hand-counted and audited. All votes are cast either on (a) an electronic touch-screen machine, such as those used in Lorain County, that has a visible paper record that the voter can check to assure that it records the vote as cast, and that can be hand-counted in a recount or audit, or (b) a paper ballot that can be scanned electronically or counted by hand.

For more than six years, based on the settlement of a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters of Ohio, every county board of elections is required to prepare an Election Administration Plan before every general election. The plan details exactly how they have prepared for every aspect of the election from personnel to facilities to supplies to security.

These plans are reviewed after each election so that any problems can be corrected before the next election. The plan also allows the public to see how each county has prepared for the election and to recommend changes.

In Lorain County, like all counties in Ohio, state law requires that all aspects of elections be administered by a Republican and a Democrat working together — making it one of the most secure systems in the nation. This is most evident on Election Day, when each polling place is staffed by an equal number of Democrat and Republican poll workers.

It also applies to the staff of the board of elections, all the way to the director and deputy director having to be of opposite political parties. The board members must be two Republicans and two Democrats.

The security of your ballot is assured by this two-by-two requirement, because it means one party cannot “rig” the election if both parties have to sign off on everything. At the end of Election Day, the bipartisan poll workers count the votes in their polling place, sign the results and post them where the public can read them.

Then all the ballots and records are delivered by a Democrat and a Republican together driving them to the board of elections.

The ballots and records are stored in a room that is secured with two locks, one held by the director and the other by the deputy director, so no one can have access to the room without the other. This bipartisan procedure is also followed when the official count takes place 10 days after Election Day, when validated provisional ballots and absentee ballots are included in the final tally and when there is any recount or audit.

Any Ohio voter who is still concerned about the integrity of the election can call the Lorain County Board of Elections at (440) 326-5900 and volunteer to be a poll worker on Election Day. Go to the training session, then work 15-plus hours on Election Day (you will be paid) and observe the protections that are built into the system.

Do not allow anyone to discourage you from voting. The deadline for registering for the November election is Oct. 11. Check with the Lorain County BOE or the secretary of state’s website to be sure your registration is up to date with your current address, make sure you know the location of your polling place, or vote by mail or early in-person at the BOE, 1985 North Ridge Rd. East. Remember to take your identification on Election Day. Acceptable forms of required identification are explained on “Voting-1-2-3” cards available at the Oberlin Public Library and at the Secretary of State website: sos.state.oh.us.

The League of Women Voters urges every citizen to make your voice heard and vote.

– Linda Gates

President, League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area

– Alison Ricker

Co-President, League of Women Voters of Ohio

– Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick

Co-President, League of Women Voters of Ohio