Ohio Election Day Confusion?

10.25.2005 | Faculty, LawUniversity of Dayton law and political science professors anticipate Ohio will be on the national Election Day radar for its four voter reform issues and, again, for voter confusion.

Issues 2 through 5 will address voting by absentee ballot up to 35 days before the election regardless of a reason, campaign finance, and setting up independent commissions to oversee Ohio's election and redistricting process.

Chris Duncan, chair of UD's political science department, said the Ohio ballot issues are concerns in most states, so the other states are looking at Ohio as somewhat of a test case. But, he added, placing four issues on the ballot at one time can create mass confusion.

Law professor Richard Saphire predicted the complicated ballot language and unresolved problems with provisional ballots that plagued the 2004 presidential election will be among this year's problems.

"There also may be some issues with the rushed efforts of some counties to install new electronic or optical scan equipment to comply with the Help America Vote Act," said Saphire, who is assisting the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal case involving punch card ballots against Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell." Many polling places probably will experience difficulties with election workers and voters not having enough time to become familiar with the new equipment."

Duncan and the Rev. John Putka, S.M., a UD political science lecturer, said votes in favor of an independent redistricting board will favor the Democrats because it currently isn't the majority party in Ohio. They said many feel the Republicans set unfair district boundaries following the 2000 U.S. Census.
Duncan wondered whether Democrats should do more to tie the issues on the Nov. 8 ballot to concerns of the common voter.

"Voter reform issues on the ballot are important, but voters are worried about other things like health insurance, their company's well-being and how much it will cost to heat their homes this winter," Duncan said.

If the issue that sets up an independent redistricting commission passes, Putka feels the commission will work until special interests start trying to influence the board. Then, he said, the process will be jumbled again.

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