Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voter Protection Institute not following election rules?

In travelling around to the various polling locations, I came across two groups with ID tags: The Voting Rights Institute (wearing green jackets) and the Voter Protection Institute.

At Chase Elementary, a member of the Voter Protection Institute was one of the certified observers inside the polling location. He recognized me and introduced himself and even volunteered to show me his official certification document to prove he was a certified observer. He seemed particularly proud that, even though he was certified on behalf of the Obama campaign, he helped a Republican to vote. But, as he explained, he's an attorney and, as an officer of the court, believed it appropriate to help any voter.

However, the non-certified members of the VPI, did not seem as interested in following the laws.

Upon our arrival, I had my laptop open in the car and it was easily seen as we pulled in. One representative of this group went over to the other one and they both looked in my direction and then moved to OUTSIDE the flags. In Ohio, any campaign or non-official poll workers/observers must stay outside the actual polling location (100 feet) which is designated by American flags.

Despite having their tags on lanyards clearly observable, they also had Obama campaign literature and stickers.

I went inside and, after identifying myself, added up the numbers on the slips of paper which indicate how many individuals had voted and by what method (either touch screen, paper or provisional). This is just the numbers - not any identifying information - and it is data that media/public are allowed to access.

At my polling location at about 10:30, we had around 250 people vote. At this polling location, by 10:45, they had over 550 ballots cast. Both polling locations have only two precincts.

There was also a representative from the Obama campaign waiting for the 11 a.m. list. At 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., each polling location publishes a list of all individuals who have voted. The various campaigns always rush for these lists and then use them to contact voters who haven't yet gone to the polls.

Upon leaving the polling area, I noticed that several of the VPI representatives were, again, inside the flags, so I politely reminded them that they had to be on the other side of the flags. They promptly complied.

However, considering that there aren't really people to enforce the distance requirement, I don't have much confidence that they will continue to abide by this rule.

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