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SPOTLIGHT ON.... Election Administration Reform Progress



The historic election lawsuit settlement agreement in June, 2009, between the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the office of the Ohio Secretary of State (LWVO et. al vs. Brunner) established new requirements for county boards of elections in their administration of elections.  As part of the agreement, the League of Women Voters of Ohio will monitor election-administration reforms mandated in the settlement agreement until 2015.  The full settlement agreement can be found at http://www.lwvohio.org/assets/attachments/file/LWVO%20Settlement%20Agreement%20Signed%20With%20Attachments(1).PDF

Phase 1 of the Lawsuit Monitoring Project has just concluded.  It involved the work of outstanding volunteers from17 local Leagues across the state.  These League members interviewed county board of elections' staff in 22 Ohio counties following the November 2009 election to determine compliance with the terms of the LWVO et. al vs. Brunner lawsuit settlement agreement.

The interviews involved a cross-section of a fourth of the state's counties (that is, large, medium and small counties, as well as rural and urban counties).  The findings indicate progress that we hope is occurring across the state.

Responses indicate that county boards of elections are largely complying with the terms of the lawsuit settlement agreement.  However:

  1. Recruiting and training competent poll workers remains a major challenge for some county boards of elections; and
  2. Full compliance with accessibility laws for voters with disabilities remains elusive.

The 22 counties that participated in League interviews demonstrated transparency in their administration and had the opportunity to prove they are in compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement.  We are optimistic that those few county boards of elections that were reluctant to participate will choose to do so in the future. 

We greatly appreciate the work of local League members in making Phase 1 of the Lawsuit Monitoring Project such a success!  To read the full report, "Off To A Good Start: County Election Boards Make Strides in November 2009 Election," go to http://www.lwvohio.org/assets/attachments/file/6-29-10%20-%20Final%20Report%20-%20Lawsuit%20Monitoring%20Project.pdf.

Phase 2 of the project is now underway.  Phase 2 involves an assessment of the plans developed by county boards of elections in preparation for the upcoming 2010 November election.  The settlement agreement requires that all county boards of elections submit election-administration plans to the Secretary of State.  LWVOEF representatives are currently collecting plans from the Secretary of State for 32 counties, representing a cross-section of those in Ohio.  In conjunction with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, we will be reviewing the plans to assess the boards' strategies for addressing the election-administration problems they encountered in the past and for continuing to improve election procedures in the future. 

LWVOEF will continue to provide periodic updates on the monitoring of the Lawsuit Settlement Agreement. Chuck Wolfe, the new manager of the Lawsuit Monitoring Project, will be contacting local Leagues in the next few weeks to further discuss the project.

 

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