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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

News

County election boards make strides in complying with lawsuit settlement

Sunday, Jul. 25, 2010

The historic election lawsuit settlement agreement in June 2009 between the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the office of the Ohio Secretary of State (LWVO et al. v. Brunner) established new requirements for election administration.

As part of the agreement, the League of Women Voters of Ohio will monitor election-administration reforms mandated in the settlement agreement until 2015.

Phase 1 of the Lawsuit Monitoring Project has just concluded. It involved the work of outstanding volunteers from 17 local Leagues across the state, including the Metro Columbus League. These League members interviewed county board of elections staff in 22 Ohio counties following the November 2009 election to determine compliance with the terms of the LWVO et al. v. Brunner lawsuit settlement agreement.

The interviews involved a cross-section of one-fourth of the state's counties (that is, large, medium, and small counties, as well as rural and urban counties). The findings indicate progress that the League hopes is occurring across the state.

Responses indicate that county boards of elections are largely complying with the terms of the lawsuit settlement agreement. However:

1) Recruiting and training competent poll workers remains a major challenge for some county boards of elections; and

2) Full compliance with accessibility laws for voters with disabilities remains elusive.

The 22 counties that participated in League interviews, including Franklin, Delaware, and Union in central Ohio, demonstrated transparency in their administration and had the opportunity to prove they are in compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. The League is optimistic that those few county boards of elections that were reluctant to participate will choose to do so in the future. 

The full report is entitled "Off To A Good Start: County Election Boards Make Strides in November 2009 Election."

Phase 2 of the project is now underway. Phase 2 involves an assessment of the plans developed by county boards of elections in preparation for the upcoming 2010 November election. The settlement agreement requires that all county boards of elections submit election-administration plans to the Secretary of State. League representatives are currently collecting plans from the Secretary of State for 32 counties, representing a cross-section of those in Ohio. In conjunction with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League will review the plans to assess the boards' strategies for addressing the election-administration problems they encountered in the past and for continuing to improve election procedures in the future.

Read more: Off To A Good Start Report