Ohio GOP Poll Workers Received Supplemental Training Last Thursday
The Board of Elections of each county in Ohio chooses a certain number of people from each political party to serve as poll workers at elections. A gentleman who initially asked to be selected by the Board of Elections for Franklin County (which includes the state capitol, Columbus) on the Democratic side was told there were no slots remaining, so he called back and got a slot on the Republican side. This poll worker has requested that his name not be used in this article.
On November 1, he attended the formal training provided by the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE) and thought he was ready to go. To his surprise, that very afternoon in the mail he received a form letter from the Ohio Republican Party informing him that, although he had completed the "required" training, on Thursday (November 2) he could receive "optional" training provided by the Ohio GOP at a private facility. Again, the letter was not from the Franklin County Board of Elections nor from the Secretary of State of Ohio (the state department that oversees Ohio elections) nor from any department or agency thereof; it was from a political party offering what appeared to be its own training beyond what state and county officials have deemed appropriate and adequate for poll workers.
Click here to view a facsimile copy of the letter in pdf format.
Because of the short notice for this extra training, the poll worker could not rearrange his schedule to attend, so I cannot report anything whatsoever about what the Republican poll workers were taught, but a representative for the Ohio Democratic Party assured me in a Sunday afternoon phone conversation that no such supplement to the formal training was being provided to Democratic poll workers.
The poll worker who received the letter says that he heard nothing at the formal training about the possibility of supplemental training being subsequently provided by the political parties, themselves, so it appears that this Thursday event was not sanctioned by the Board of Elections.
The mystery, of course, remains as to what, exactly, was covered in the supplemental training, as well as what organizations or corporations were delivering content.
In addition to contacting the Ohio Democratic Party campaign headquarters on Sunday, I contacted a top campaign official for a state-wide Ohio candidate about this supplemental training. He said, "It's news to me." The official, who asked to remain anonymous, went on to say, "I haven't heard anything about this [extra training]."
Aside from long-standing and persistent accusations that recent elections in Ohio have been tainted by vote rigging, outright fraud, and vote suppression tactics aimed at keeping Republicans in political control, new problems are already expected with Ohio's recently enacted voter ID law. Application of the law to voters voting by absentee ballot was suspended pursuant to a temporary restraining order issued by US District Judge Algenon Marbley pending a hearing on Wednesday, November 8; however, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has since stayed that temporary restraining order upon request of Republican Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.
The Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has called in her platform for Ohio to "[r]educe reliance on training and Election Day assistance now contracted for from voting machine vendors to avoid the 'outsourcing' of our elections to private companies," indicating that the formal training Ohio poll workers are currently receiving is already under the partial control of private, third parties brought in at the behest of the office of the Secretary of State, which oversees elections.
Clearly, even if Ohio law (and laws in other states) is modified to ensure that thorough training is uniformly provided to poll workers through the development and implementation of "best practices," political parties themselves must still be assured that they need not offer their own "optional" training to help poll workers of their own party have a differential advantage when it comes to ensuring free and fair elections at the level of the polling sites.
Whether or not the extra training delivered by the Ohio GOP was unethical or possibly illegal is beyond the scope of this article, but the very existence of such extraordinary "training" of Republican poll workers in the Buckeye State is certain to further fuel suspicions among some Democrats that Republicans are not about to play by any set of rules accepted and embraced by others when it comes to winning elections.
Further information, should it become available, will be posted here as updates and edits to this post.