Ohio elections process will work in the end

Published 11:44 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

The banner headline across USA TODAY’s Wednesday edition read: “Another mess at the polls?”

It reminded me of a 2005 election in Scioto County when Board of Elections Director Steve Mowery called the tabulation “total chaos.”

He was not a happy camper that night. Feeling he didn’t get the technical support from Diebold that was promised him by the company, he had a very direct message for a company representative when he sought accountability during a public meeting.

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That rep must have left the room feeling like he’d been run over by a truck, but looking back at that episode it was not an isolated occurence.

Various irregularities have occurred in Ohio elections since then and it seems now that prior to every election there are some issues that bring doubt into the notion that the election will go off without a hitch.

That’s not exactly a glowing representation of the world’s greatest democracy.

Once again, voters are on the doorstep of an election — a presidential election — and once again they will go to the polls with lingering questions about the validity of the process.

But before everyone begins to worry about the election “being stolen” or other cynical beliefs that men in masks are doing underhanded things to make sure the election goes their way, Cathy Overbeck has this to say when it comes to Ohio’s elections process being vulnerable.

“I personally don’t think so,” said Overbeck, Lawrence County’s director of the board of elections. “As long as there is due diligence in every county, and I believe there is. There are checks and balances in place ”

Overbeck points out that Lawrence County has avoided much of the voter registration controversy, much of which was stirred by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN). That group has come under fire fore alleged voter-registration fraud in multiple states.

She said Lawrence County has flown under the radar.

“Sometimes when you would go to Columbus or other places and they’ll ask where Lawrence County is and you say it’s the southernmost county in Ohio. Then their response would typically be, ‘Oh, the Cincinnati area,’” Overbeck said. “Usually that’s upsetting. But in this situation, in my opinion, it is in our favor.”

Still, with more than 6,500 absentee votes in already, it’s clear all Ohio boards of elections will have their hands full Tuesday.

But in the end, even if there are hiccups along the way, the will of the Ohio voters will be clear and the system will work.