The United States is now less than one year away from what is likely to be one of the most important electoral contests of the past 50 years.
What's more, after the parties have selected their nominees probably no more than three months from now Ohio will be effectively the center of attention. As a "battleground state," a huge electoral prize that either side could win, Ohio will be visited frequently by the candidates and accompanying media hordes.
Sadly, it doesn't appear Ohio is ready for all the attention.
With questions about the 2004 election still fresh in the national media's mind and many of the questions unanswered it doesn't appear our state is any better equipped to deal with this election than the last one.
Just last week in a low-turnout local election that should have been a breeze by comparison, there were vote counting problems that should scare state officials.
In Lawrence County, a tabulation machine in the county's election headquarters flipped the vote totals for two candidates.
Last month, a report by the Cuyahoga Election Review Panel on results of a May primary there found: 812 voter-access cards (which voters place in touch-screen machines to vote) were lost along with 215 card encoders and 313 keys to voting machines' memory departments; 60 board of election employees took touch-screen machines home a weekend before the election to test a procedure for transmitting data; The election board hired 69 taxis to transport observers to precincts to collect memory cards and paper rolls on election night. But many cab drivers ended up gathering the materials themselves, and about half the cabs returned to the warehouse with election data, but no observer; In at least 79 precincts the number of voters who signed the poll books didn't match the number of ballots cast; and at least eight precincts had more ballots cast than registered voters.
That's just one county! And in case you think these snafus just happen elsewhere, think again. In Norwalk, a candidate who may have won a race for a city council seat appears to not even reside in the ward in which she was a candidate.
We've been voting in Ohio and the United States for more than 200 years and it's time we started getting the hang of conducting elections. The integrity of our election process is central to who we are as a nation and to the proper functioning of our democracy. Ohio is looking more like a third-world country than a modern American state and rightfully risks becoming a laughing stock.
Nothing we do as a democracy is as basic as conducting fair, efficient elections. With less than a year before what could be the most important election of our lifetimes, Ohio is just not ready and we urge Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to do what is necessary to correct the problems and make Ohioans confident that their votes not only count, but are counted correctly.