The Montgomery County Board of (S)elections

There are enough barriers to getting elected in this country, the last one shouldn’t be the “bi-partisan” group that is in charge of making sure elections are fair- but, in Montgomery County, it seems the first stop is the last stop for more candidates and causes than most. Special privileges given to party- or union-endorsed candidates and political jurisdictions. We are now also making military members a privileged class in voting, while doing everything possible to make it difficult for the regular voter.

Somehow, Ohio has come up with a system that guarantees stupidity. Almost every organization known to man chooses odd numbers for the simple reason of breaking ties (even the U.S. Senate with its nice round 100- falls to the VP to vote in case of a tie). Yet, the county board of elections is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans- with no provision for the voice of any third party whatsoever. What’s even more amazing is that none of the board is elected by anyone- not even their own parties. What we have is a plain and simple patronage mechanism- which permeates every employee of this criminal organization.

I call them criminals, because despite their non-election, they manage to hide behind rules that are made entirely by elected bodies to make sure that those in power, stay in power. Gerrymandering has become an exact science since the advent of computer modeling with our entire state being configured to be non-competitive. The state redistricting commission will meet to hear public input today from 10 a.m. to noon at the former NCR World HQ at 1700 S. Patterson Blvd. across from Carillon Park.

A competition was held by the League of Women Voters to create a more equitable map in Ohio- and the winner was created by an Illinois State rep– not even an Ohioan. It is doubtful that these crowd-sourced maps will be adopted because our current political hacks are more interested in keeping their jobs than letting the public choose their representation.

In a move that only covered- the Montgomery County Board of Elections redrew all our local precinct maps recently without any real public review or regard for the myriad of other issues that are connected to these maps.

In Ohio it is incredibly difficult to push a citizen initiative on the ballot, or to recall a sitting politician, much of it because of our petition process which counts on voter roles that are a complete and utter mess. The disenfranchisement of voters has reached an all-time high in Ohio- with requirements of matching name, signature and address to their data coupled with very high signature requirements despite the fact that if you run for Congress- one of the highest offices in the land, and you are a member of a major party- you only need 50 signatures.

There are different petitions for almost every office- with different procedures, language, turn-in dates and rules for authentication. Despite the fact that all are just trying to confirm that the signer is in fact a registered voter. Even the definition of “registered voter” is a fluid description- as exceptions are made via provisional ballots and for the military- making the whole thing as predictable as playing spin the bottle. Why we differentiate between citizens and voters is a question that should be asked in the first place- as we are all Americans and pay the price of bad leadership – choosing not to vote is just as valid as choosing who to vote for, if you feel your vote doesn’t count anyway- but shouldn’t have any bearing on if you think a question should be up for a vote.

Recently, the Montgomery County Board of Selections disqualified 3 candidates from a field of six for the three seats coming up for the Dayton School Board. However on review, enough signatures were “Found” to put the sitting board president, Nancy Nearny, back on the ballot. Had she not benefited from this assistance, the three remaining candidates would have all been elected- although there may be a provision for write-ins for School Board (there aren’t for Dayton City Commission).

In another smooth move, a school, Miami Valley CTC,  that arrived 8 minutes after the 4pm filing deadline, had their issue placed back on the ballot- something that never would happen for a third-party candidate.

The Secretary of State- the only person we elect to oversee all elections issues (which happens to be a man who was embroiled in a residency flap for his entire time as a state rep) is trying to push new rules to make it more difficult for all voters to request absentee ballots and require state photo IDs for all voters despite the statistical unlikeliness of voters voting more than once with the current system could ever change the results- has now made it easy for military members to vote– while it is virtually impossible for them to sign a petition from a remote duty station to be involved in the other part of the process. Military members will even be able to sign up for e-mail alerts about deadlines for requesting ballots etc.- something that should be available to the regular voter.

There are also complex campaign finance reporting laws, campaigning laws and financial disclosure laws, all as obstacles against having average people step up to be the voice of the people as elected representatives. For a country that professes to have free elections- there is nothing free about the systems we have in place, that favor the connected, the wealthy and the incumbent.

A true board of elections and elections system would have a much better rate of successful candidate filings, giving more voters more choices in an equal opportunity election. But for now, we get to choose between a few candidates who manage to jump through all the hoops and buy their way into office.

It’s not just time to look at redistricting Ohio- it’s time to reevaluate the entire two-party system that runs the “Boards of Selection” so that we may actually have real choices on the ballot.

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