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Electoral Question

Ohio has semi-open primary elections, which requires a voter to have a party affiliation. This approach has its pros and cons, but that is not the issue here. The problem: my precinct requires me to announce my party affiliation out loud to poll workers while they check and match my identification. Following this, one of the poll workers manually keys into the touchscreen voting machine the “right ballot” for me. As someone used to Wisconsin and Louisiana ballots that confidentially and automatically pop up on a curtained machine after I check in, I am astonished at this precinct’s process.

Secret Ballot, anyone?

The Ohio pollworker training manual states:

Ohio“s law is structured to place equal numbers of people from the two major political parties at work together for a check and balance system to ensure fairness. Each precinct in Ohio must have no more than half of its poll workers representing the same political party.

Yet, human nature and body language being what they are, this is not right. Do you want someone’s stink eye fouling up your whole election experience because you don’t belong to the Right Party? Seriously, it’s hard enough being a Republican in Cleveland or anything other than Republican in this county south of the big city. Again, I’m not sure if this is an Ohio-wide practice, but neither should a poll worker nor people in line with me have to know my party affiliation. That is my business as an American citizen.

So, let me know whether this is legal or if I have to call the county’s board of elections.

While you’re at it, check out Ohio’s map of voting systems. This is the state that gave us the Diebold controversy, after all.

3 comments… add one
  • Mark Folse September 8, 2010, 2:03 PM

    Louisiana used to do the same thing. The first time I voted and had to loudly announce “Independent” everything in the room stopped and everyone turned to look at this odd creature. Good thing they didn’t record what wrote on my voter registration form: Independent (Anarcho/Syndicalist). Especially as I was voting in Lake Vista.

  • Blair September 9, 2010, 9:42 AM

    I have no idea about the legality. In the Ohio system it seems that you have to announce which primary you intend to vote so they can give you the ballot for that party. How else could they do that? You could always say “I’m crossing over today to screw up the (insert party) vote”.

  • Louise September 9, 2010, 10:14 AM

    I don’t know about Ohio but my inlaws say Missouri is the same way. They are possibly the only Demos in their rural county, and get alot of stares! …Having been a pollworker in New Orleans I can say this: each voter’s party affiliation is printed in the registry that the voter signs. There is no reason for us to ask someone their party affiliation. The one time we might need to address the issue out loud is if someone doesn’t understand why they can’t vote in a primary (The Republican primaries are limited to Republicans, for example.) Then after repeating “only registered Republicans can vote in this primary” a million times, we’d say “you’re unaffiliated” (or whatever thir party is) “and are not eligible to vote in this primary”. BTW, Louisiana doesn’t recognize “Independent”. It’s called unaffiliated if you have no party.

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