Wednesday, October 31, 2012
There was much to-do between Republicans and Democrats on the Lucas County Board of Elections when it came to selecting a location for the early voting center.
They finally decided on an area in the old Riverside Hospital building at the corner of Summit and Bush streets in downtown Toledo, despite the fact that the geographical center of the county was closer to the Village of Holland while the center of population is somewhere around the University of Toledo.
Democrats wanted the center to be in the central city area of Toledo. Republicans wanted it to be in the county Rec Center, despite the fact that the Rec Center was already under a lease agreement.
Democrats emphasized that it needed to be on a bus line, and I think that was probably a good idea. Republicans wanted it to be a relatively inexpensive place and I think that was probably a good idea as well.
But in all the discussions about where to locate the early vote center, did anyone bother to think about safety?!?
I guess not, because the Lucas County early vote center is located in one of the highest crime areas of the city.
Neighborhoodscout.com provides a crime map for various jurisdictions and it shows that the area bounded by Summit Street, I-280, the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway and Elm Street is one of the highest crime areas, as are two of the four sections that border it.
Not content with just the website information, I contacted the Toledo Police Department. They provided me with January to June 2012 crime statistics in their Beat #220 Areas 358, 359. The beat includes the same area as above, but goes all the way to the back of Point Place, over to Cherry St. and then to 1-75. The areas match the ones from Neighborhoodscout.com
Here's what the crime data looks like on a map:
View TPD Crime - Beat 220, area 358 Jan 2012 to Jun 2012 in a larger map
And where is the early vote center? Right on the corner of Bush and North Superior - the edge of all this crime.
And these aren't traffic violations.
The offenses include robbery, burglary, theft, larceny, car theft, sex offenses, family and child offenses, narcotics, intoxication, conveying contraband, and assault - both felony and misdemeanor. And they occurred at all times - including many in the middle of the afternoon.
This is not minor. The BOE placed the early vote center next to a half-mile area that is riddled with crime. I was shocked when I mapped it all.
But is it one of the highest crime areas in the city? NeighborhoodScout.com says it is, but just to be sure, I asked for a comparison from TPD of the other beats they have. They sent me another 60 pages of data and it will take me a long time to map all of it, but the area just to the north of the early vote center (about the size as the area already mapped) had about 200 reports of crime between January and June this year - more than already mapped.
But that's not all. Not only is the area riddled with crime, it's quite a distance for some voters in the county.
It will take some voters in the Providence Township area 45 minutes just to get there - that's an hour-and-a-half round trip to vote. Here I thought we were all about making it easy to vote.
Oh - and the preferred route Google Maps recommends is via the turnpike because it's the shortest in terms of time - and that would require a toll!
Where are the Democrat cries about poll taxes for that?!?
Democrats in Cleveland think a billboard that warns against voter fraud is intimidating. Isn't it more intimidating and closer to voter suppression to expect voters to travel through one of the highest crime neighborhoods in the city just to cast a ballot? Especially at night in the dark?
In their effort to not disenfranchise some, the Lucas County Board of Elections will disenfranchise others and place all who go to the early vote center in a really bad crime area of the city.
So much for a fair and balanced approach to running our elections.