The Good News About Our Electoral Process
By Brad Ortman and Matthew Stanley
November 3, 2020 was no ordinary election day, as the COVID-19 pandemic created very unusual and highly challenging circumstances. Our electoral authorities also had to deal with record turnout, concern from both sides about the fairness of the electoral process, as well as documented foreign interference in recent U.S. elections. We are writing to share our perspective as two people from different political parties who assisted with the administration and oversight of the 2020 Presidential Election in Cuyahoga County.
From Brad’s Perspective as a Polling Location Manager:
Safety was a paramount concern. The DeWine administration and Secretary of State Frank LaRose deserve credit for taking important steps to assure that the election was administered as safely as possible. Four of the roughly 40 poll workers at our polling station were strictly dedicated to managing safety and sanitation. Our group made sure that roughly 2,000 election day voters were masked and maintained proper social distance. Polling stations and scanning equipment were frequently wiped down.
The electoral process was administered in a transparent, bipartisan manner according to well-defined protocols. This was my first time working the polls. As a lawyer, I was impressed at how well-defined the protocols were: checking in voters, confirming their identity, processing ballots, and handling provisional ballots. Each step was handled in a bipartisan way, utilizing poll workers of both parties, procedures that we believe to be the norm across the country. Our polls closed at 8:00 p.m. after the last voter in line cast her ballot. We spent the next 90 minutes running protocols on the scanning machines to tally and post results and then to audit the count to ensure accuracy. Election observers were present throughout. When the paper ballots were finally delivered to the Board of Elections, it was done in a bipartisan fashion.
The electoral process is administered in a non-hackable manner. Scanning machines at the polling stations are not connected to the internet to ensure that they cannot be hacked. Finally, collecting all paper ballots ensures a documented record of each and every vote if need for a recount or challenge to the results arises.
From Matt’s Perspective as a Poll Observer:
Observers help the process. Observers contribute to safe and fair elections by pointing out any problems they witness to a polling official who typically resolves the issue in a helpful and appreciative manner. Although rare, more significant matters, such as lengthy machine malfunctions causing long lines, may require escalation. In this case, an Observer would report the matter to party attorneys who would record the instance and resolve it with the local Board of Elections. Although observers represented both sides of the political divide, in my experience we all shared a common mission to ensure that the election was conducted in a proper and efficient manner.
From Our Perspective:
In the United States we take pride in our democracy – government by the people for the people. Fairness in the administration of elections stands at the very core of this unifying principle. We are happy to report based on our experience that the process in Ohio successfully stood up to the many unprecedented tests of the 2020 electoral season.