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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day is Here

Well... it all comes down to this: Election Day! It is time for America to show the greatest and worst things our government has to offer: on the one hand, patriots all across this great land will fulfill their civic duty and vote for the very future of our great nation; on the other hand, the worst sort of social deviants will be hard at work to undermine this very fragile process through acts of intimidation, fraud, and perhaps even violence.

People not properly registered will vote, some people will vote twice or more, others will be bussed into precincts from out of town and given money, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol in exchange for a vote. Both sides will claim that the other side is doing it... and to an extent both sides will be right; however, it has been documented repeatedly that one side is doing it more than the other... and that same side just so happens to have ties to unions and organized crime - I'm sorry, was I just redundant?

Ohio, my home state and the state in which I will cast my vote in mere hours, is supposedly up in the air. Ohio is a "battleground" state and when all is said and done, it may just end up resembling a battleground. Ohio has a Republican Gov, a majority Republican state government, and a majority of Republicans representing the state on the Federal level; and yet somehow there is a tight race in Ohio!?! In Youngstown, which is very close to my home town, the Democrat Mayor George McKelvey has been very vocal about his support for Bush. McKelvey proudly calls himself a "Bush Democrat" and I know he isn't the only one in a "Democratic Stronghold" like Youngstown, Ohio.

I have a hard time believing Ohio could go from red to blue, but then I hear stories of counties in Ohio having more people registered than are of age to vote in the county. I hear stories of Democrat front groups giving out crack to people who register voters, and names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy are allegedly on the voter rolls. In Ohio I have heard of thousands upon thousands of voters registered to addresses which simply do not exist.

Meanwhile, and this hits very close to home for me, my sister, a registered Republican, was denied an absentee ballot because the Mahoning County Board of Elections claimed that she was not registered to vote. Incase anyone is interested, she was old enough, registered, and did vote in the 2000 election; but suddenly, according to the Mahoning County Board of Elections, my sister is not registered. Her request for an absentee ballot was not responded to, it simply lay in a stack of similar "unregistered" voters who requested an absentee ballot (I wonder what the registered democrat to republican ratio was in that stack).

After waiting for weeks to receive the absentee ballot, we contacted the Mahoning County Board of Elections by phone. When asked why she did not receive an absentee ballot, the explanation that she was unregistered was challenged. The MCBoE stated that there was no person by my sister's name registered to vote and after checking for a misspelled name and at two possible addresses where she could have been registered, the MCBoE said she simply had not registered to vote and since the registration deadline had passed that she would not be able to vote in the election. My sister had not personally called the Board of Elections, but after it my sister confirmed that she had voted in 2000 and had registered as a republican, a second call was made.

The second call was taken by a different worker at the MCBoE. When confronted with the fact that my sister, a registered republican, had in fact voted in the 2000 election and thus had to be registered, the MCBoE notified the caller that my sister was registered, but that her name was misspelled in the database: this claim despite the fact that the first person who spoke on behalf of the MCBoE stated she had checked for alternate spellings at two possible addresses. The MCBoE stated that my sister's last name, 'Jacobson' was in the database as 'Jacobsen' and that the MCBoE had that misspelling of her name throughout the database, supposedly.

Amazingly, on the same day the second call was made, a piece of mail arrived for my sister from ( drum roll please...) The Mahoning County Board of Elections. The mail was sent to my sister, at our home address, with her name spelled correctly - not spelled with an 'sen' as it supposedly appeared in the database. How it was showing up in the database misspelled, but not on the mailing list, is beyond me. The mail arrived the same day they found the misspelling… it was not mailed after they “fixed” the error in the database.

The MCBoE, having been informed of their "mistake" promptly sent out an absentee ballot... a ballot which only arrived a day before the deadline to return it. My sister, understanding the importance of this election, made a special trip home from college in order to be able to vote... On the way home, while on the state turnpike, a deer jumped out in front of her car. Thank God she is ok, but her car is totaled and she wouldn't have had to make the trip if the Mahoning County Board of Elections had done its job. I was mad that they were giving my sister, a registered republican, a hard time - what some would call disenfranchisement. The fact that on her ride home her car was demolished has me furious.

I don't know if my sister's name was somehow misspelled in the database, but not on the mailing list. I don't know if this was just a fluke error or an organized effort to suppress registered republican voters from voting absentee. I do know my sister had to drive across state lines and hours to get home in order to have her vote counted. I do know that on that trip home this evening, her car was destroyed.

I really hope my sister was just an isolated incident. I want to believe that even in a "democrat stronghold" like the Mahoning County that all voters are being treated fairly. Ohio is absolutely crucial in this election. I still don't see how it could possibly go to John Kerry - I like to believe that my fellow Buckeyes are smart enough to know that Bush is the only choice in this election. One thing is for certain... democracy is being put to the test, the American people are being put to the test, and the fate of our great nation is now in the hands of the pure and the wicked - those who whole heartedly believe in democracy and those who work to undermine it at every level.

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