February 25, 2005

Report on EAC February 23rd Hearing by electionline.org

Report from electionline.org on February 23rd Columbus, Ohio, hearing of U.S. Election Assistance Commission:

Hello, Columbus: Provisional voting debate rages on
EAC hearing focuses on problems, possible solutions

By Sean Greene


Columbus, Ohio - The federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) traveled here for its first out-of-town public hearing in 2005, where the Moritz School of Law at Ohio State University hosted a packed house for nearly four hours of at times testy testimony about provisional ballots.

EAC chair Gracia Hillman prefaced the afternoon hearing (a public meeting on voting machine standards was held in the morning) by emphasizing that the Commission had come to Columbus to focus on the national picture, not just Ohio.

Ohio debate

Initially, however, Ohio and its handling of provisional ballots took center stage. After being chastised by some election groups for not making appearances at Congressional hearings in Washington D.C., Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell spoke about the state’s "mature" system of provisional voting that has been in place for ten years. "Ohio's provisional balloting system can stand as a model for other states," he stated.

Not everyone agreed.

"Ohio's provisional voting system is not a model for the nation," countered Cuyahoga County, Ohio elections director Michael Vu. Vu cited late directives concerning these ballots issued by the secretary of state’s office that added to confusion for both poll workers and voters.

Audience member and Lake County election director Janet Clair was also troubled at times by the poor communication between the secretary’s office and local officials. “I often heard about the directives from the media first,” Clair stated.

Full text of article

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