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Ohio: Cuyahoga County’s Jane Platten bids farewell – credited with turning around troublesome jurisdiction | electionlineWeekly
Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s elections chief Jane Platten hasn’t been around as long as some of her peers in the elections world, but she certainly has faced her share of ups and downs. And it is the fact that there were far more ups than downs that it came as a surprise when she announced her resignation in late November. In 2007, Platten became the county’s fourth elections director in seven years after the county suffered a series of disastrous elections and was put under administrative oversight by the Ohio secretary of state’s office.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County elections chief Jane Platten leaving to take job at prosecutor’s office | cleveland.com
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Jane Platten, who helped bring credibility and efficiency to the once-broken office, announced Tuesday she is taking a job as chief of staff for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. Platten’s resignation comes two weeks after a largely trouble-free general election in Cuyahoga County — an occurrence much less common under previous elections directors. “When I told people that I had accepted the job as Board of Elections director, many of the reactions I received were, ‘Are you crazy?’ or they laughed,” Platten recalled in an interview Tuesday. “People’s perception of the Board of Elections was that it was an agency of extreme turmoil and it was broken, and we turned it around.”
Ohio: Secretary of State Husted decides against extended hours for in-person absentee voting | cleveland.com
Early-voting hours in Cuyahoga County for the November presidential election will be more restrictive than for the March primary after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted decided not to allow weekend voting. Husted announced his tie-breaking vote Friday, two days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections deadlocked along party lines on whether to open board offices on the last two Saturdays and Sundays in October for voting. Husted did not wait for the board members to submit written proposals regarding their views, which is the usual procedure following a tie vote. A representative from Husted’s office was present at the elections board meeting Wednesday night and heard both sides of the issue, said spokesman Matt McClellan. Based on that, Husted was able to make a decision, McClellan said. McClellan added that when Husted had training sessions for board of elections officials in June he made it clear that while extending hours for in-person early voting was a local decision, he would vote against it if there were tie votes.
To cope with ballot scanners a federal agency has deemed faulty, Cuyahoga County’s elections board has mandated four tests during each election — plus an audit afterward — to guarantee results are right. The county even received a grant from the federal agency, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to produce a how-to guide on testing and auditing, to give voters throughout the country greater confidence in elections.
“The board has become a nationwide leader in assuring accurate elections and understanding that technology can fail, and it’s their job to test carefully, not just occasionally, but persistently,” said Candice Hoke, an elections professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. “That is very good news.”
Rigorous testing matters in part because the election commission last week ruled the county’s ballot scanners were out of the compliance, the first such decision in the agency’s nine-year history. The machines, made by Omaha-Neb.-based Elections Systems & Software Inc. inexplicably freeze up, miss some votes and fail to log problems.
The federal agency responsible for inspecting voting equipment said Thursday that a ballot scanner used in several key battleground states can freeze up without warning, fail to log errors and misread ballots.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission said the ballot reader, made by Omaha-based ES&S, is not in compliance with federal standards. And while it’s the first time the 8-year-old agency has taken such a step, it falls just short of decertification — a move that could force election officials to abandon the machines on the eve of the 2012 presidential primaries.
The DS200 optical-scan system is designed to read paper ballots fed into the machines by voters themselves at their precincts. It’s used in all or part of Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Wisconsin.
Ohio: U.S. government investigation finds Cuyahoga County’s election machines are flawed – ES&S DS200 | cleveland.com
Scanners Cuyahoga County has used to tally election results since 2008 are defective, missing some votes, freezing up inexplicably and failing to log problems, according to a federal government agency. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released its findings this week, after a 20-month investigation spurred by an April 2010 Plain Dealer story. The paper reported a tenth of the machines arbitrarily powered down and locked up, failing certification tests required by federal law.
The manufacturer, Omaha-Neb.-based Elections Systems & Software Inc., tried to fix the problems this year, but the upgrade actually created more problems, according to the report. If the company can’t correct the flaw, the government could decertify the machines — leaving Cuyahoga and jurisdictions without the country no way to conduct elections in a presidential year.
If you plan on voting by mail for November’s election, get your stamps ready! Unlike years past, this year all mail-in ballots in the state of Ohio will require postage. Postage costs will vary by county depending on the weight of the ballot. In Cuyahoga County, the cost is 64 cents.
The pre-addressed envelope does not say how much postage is required, but voters will receive a special paper notice reminding them of the added postage cost. Some voters worry that the new postage costs will go unnoticed or some people will refuse to pay and forgo the voting process altogether.
Lots of people are voting by absentee ballot this year, but you could create big a problem for yourself if you don’t take heed of something 19 Action News discovered on Wednesday. The ballots are too heavy to get back to the Board of Elections with a simple .44 cent first class stamp.
The envelopes say affix first class postage, but if you just slap a .44 cent stamp on the envelope you’ll be short postage, and your ballot will be returned by the post office. That could cause real problems if you mail it right before the election. There are two processes going on at the Board of Elections. First, absentee ballots are being sent out to people who request them, not to everyone. So if you want one, request one.
Second, 50,000 ballots have already poured into the board for the November 8th election. Board Director Jane Platten says there is still plenty of time to vote absentee. “If I get your ballot the day after Election Day, but its postmarked November 7th, I can still accept it,” Platten said.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County Elections Board retrieves ballot after voter complains of missing page | cleveland.com
Cuyahoga County elections officials this week took the unusual step of retrieving an absentee ballot from a locked ballot box after a voter complained that her ballot was missing a page. Elections Director Jane Platten said Wednesday that officials acted properly when they retrieved the ballot under the watch of a board Republican and Democrat. The voter, from Strongsville, was then given the second page to cast her vote.
The incident happened on the first day of absentee voting on Tuesday. Platten said officials are certain the mistake was isolated. The board examined tablets containing blank ballots and found 20 other people who had voted previously were given two pages.
“We were able to audit the precincts of the other 20 voters who had voted prior to this person,” she said. “We were able to conclude the voters who voted previously all received two pages.”
The Cuyahoga County Elections Board kicked off an absentee voting campaign Thursday by asking more than 400 local organizations to place an application link on their websites. The vote-by-mail campaign is in response to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s directive Aug. 22 forbidding county boards of elections from mailing unsolicited ballot applications. This is a way to broaden the outlets through which voters can access applications.
County election officials said in a news release that they expect to reach thousands of voters by having organizations post application links. Voters who don’t have computer access can call the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at 216-443-3298 to request a ballot application. Applications are also available at libraries and online.
Jane Platten, executive director of the county Board of Elections, said staff members sent the web link to every mayor, city council member and library in the county, hoping they will post an icon on their home pages. The board is also targeting major employers, such as MetroHealth Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.
For the first time in years, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will soon know just how many registered voters it should have. The county is in the middle of of its largest-ever purge of voter records. And when it is over, Elections Director Jane Platten expects her department will delete more than 100,000 inactive voters — just over one-tenth of the region’s current registered voting population.
Record purging has been a controversial topic for Cuyahoga, which gained attention in 2007 for being one of several counties that had more people registered to vote than people of voting age.
Platten, who was appointed as election board director the same year, said that the department historically had an “inconsistent practice” of updating registration records. As a result, there hasn’t been an accurate count of valid registered voters for years.