Redrawing the local lines, new precincts and voting locations for Montgomery County

Because our Board of Elections is controlled by the local political parties (the two that the State of Ohio recognizes)- we see all kinds of shenanigans – like the 2-2 ties on party lines every time there is a question of one of their approved candidates- but a 4-0 decision on anyone else (when the Mayor of Moraine failed to turn in 50 signatures, the Dems actually wanted her to appear on the ballot).

Of course, the Montgomery County Board of Elections fails us in many ways. There are no minutes or agendas or meeting schedules on their site: They also fail to post forms in PDF format for candidates, or basic information like polling places.

Compare this with the first-class Franklin County Board of Elections- which has all minutes posted and their open meetings policy or their forms for candidates– and even the ability to download voter data directly from their site!

There has been much discussion among political wonks (of which I don’t include myself) about the redistricting in 2010 for Congressional districts. In Ohio, we have a system that allows serious gerrymandering- which explains why Huber Heights has Boehner while the rest of Dayton gets Turner, and WPAFB is Austrias. With Ohio’s drop in population, we may lose a congressional seat or possibly two, forcing a new set of puzzle pieces to be drawn to help either the Republicans or Democrats own districts so that incumbents stay that way.

What isn’t tracked so much is the local level mishmash of precincts and polling stations. This is done at the local level and is about to be played with again- just before Thanksgiving, when the last election results are certified. Why should you care? The average voter shouldn’t. However, in a move to consolidate power in the hands of a few, this move is critical for the local parties, I’ll explain. Other than electing priority board people, or precinct captains for each political party, or voting a small area dry- as far as I can tell, precincts make zero difference to any of us. Some would say, they are totally insignificant.

My street splits between two precincts. For me on the odd side of Bonner, I walk a block and a half to the United Christian Center. My parents on the even side, have to travel about 5 blocks to the Gospel Mission to vote. This makes zero sense- but, what makes even less sense as I discovered the night before the election when I was putting my signs or chalk out at polling places, is that many of them are literally back to back. That’s right- two different buildings full of poll workers and diabolical electronic voting machines- right next to each other. This is part of the reason elections cost us so much (at least $80k to hold one). It also costs the Democratic Party that pays people $75 for 13 hours to stand outside handing out stupid voter slate cards (sub-minimum wage- from the party that supposedly endorses a living wage). In an effort to cut costs and headaches, the Montgomery County Board of Elections is going to cut the number of Precincts down from 548 to 360- saving us 188 precincts.

Why is this important to you and me? It’s not. But, to the parties, who have to find people to be “Precinct captains” to serve on their “Central committees” to run their party- it’s a way to consolidate power, since a great number of seats are empty. These are the people that elect party chairmen, who then select people to serve on screening committees– who then choose who will be anointed to run on the ballot.

Now you understand why this little bit of local gerrymandering without public scrutiny is being done on the quiet. It’s already a done deal, all that has to happen is signatures on the dotted line Tuesday, Nov 24.

The Montgomery County Democratic Party site is currently offline- behind a password (maybe so they can remove all connections to Rhine McLin and hope we won’t notice) but it has never had lists of the precinct captains or the screening committee available. In fact, it’s never publicized that people are needed to fill these seats. After the redistricting, new precincts with 2 people in them- preference will go to the elected over the appointed captains. The Dems elect their captains in the Gubernatorial cycle, the GOP does theirs on the Presidential cycle.

Again- compare to the Franklin County Democrats who post their Central Committee membership list on the site for all to see.

If we want to see democracy return to Montgomery County- where you get to pick the candidates in primaries, and have a chance to be heard in local party politics (so you don’t find them taking money from casino backers and pushing bad amendments to out State Constitution) it’s time to pay attention to what’s been going on behind closed doors for way too long.

Your thoughts? This is why I’m starting the Dayton Process. Hope you understand this better now.

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