While so much post-November 2012 Election attention has focused on legislation and how “to fix that,” in the months leading up to the election and the months since there has also been a lot of movement on local election boards that no amount of current legislation will address. Elections boards have clashed with each other, state officials and their administrators over everything from early voting to performance to reviewing voter rolls for noncitizens. In Ohio, both before and after the election there have been a lot of changes to local elections boards. Some of those changes proved to be quite contentious. “I would say being a swing state puts the local officials more in the spotlight, so it also puts pressure on board members of the opposite party of the secretary of state to vote against the secretary of state,” said Edward B. Foley, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Professor for the Administration of Justice and the Rule of Law at the Moritz College of Law.
“In other words, there is a greater likelihood that the party will want its representatives on the board to act in a partisan manner, to protect the party’s interests. Consequently, this cuts both ways, for and against the secretary of state.”
In the past, we’ve discussed the difficulties of doing a nonpartisan job — administering elections on the state level — in a hyper-partisan world, but what about locally?
“I actually think that for local election boards, competence is a much bigger issue than partisanship,” said Daniel P. Tokaji, Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor of Law; Senior Fellow, Election Law at Moritz College of Law.
Tokaji, speaking specifically about Ohio, said that he thinks the make-up of the boards in Ohio — two representatives of each of the two major parties — the partisanship tends to balance itself out. He said the bigger issue of partisanship comes from the state level.
“The much bigger problem is the partisanship with the secretary of state’s office,” Tokaji said. “I believe bipartisan boards can work pretty well, but it doesn’t work well at the state level because that’s where the policy is made.”
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.