By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County Board of Elections thinks it may have a solution to get Democrats and Republicans to ride together to return ballots on election night.
During a routine discussion at the March elections board meeting regarding the performance of poll workers, Brian Daley, the regional liaison to the board for Secretary of State Jon Husted, learned that in 20 percent of Trumbull County voting precincts, poll workers were not following the rules.
Specifically, in 41 of the 210 precincts at the Nov. 7 election, only one of the four poll workers drove the election results and equipment back from the polls to the elections board at the close of voting.
The rules require one Democrat and one Republican poll worker to bring the results and equipment back.
Failing to follow the rule caused concern for Daley, who reported the matter to Husted’s office.
It’s been a common problem for several years, despite repeated attempts to get compliance, said Jodi Fiorenzo Dibble, Trumbull County deputy director.
“Some of them don’t get along,” said Kelly Pallante, elections board director. Some reasons given are that they don’t like each other’s driving or won’t ride with someone who smokes.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Pallante said Husted’s office suggested that two elections workers be appointed before the election to take care of the drive back.
“It’s a condition of employment,” said board member Mark Alberini, agreeing with the idea. “If you don’t do it, you won’t work.”
The board unanimously approved a resolution implementing the new procedure effective immediately.
Meanwhile, the board was advised that a policy it implemented at last month’s meeting has to be rescinded.
Because the candidacy of Mark Zuppo Sr. for Girard treasurer was ruled invalid several months ago when he failed to sign one page of his nominating petitions, Alberini sought a policy that would require elections-board staff to check for “glaring” errors on petitions and point them out to the person turning them in.
The policy was approved in March.
But the secretary of state’s office has advised that the policy is flawed, because checking the petitions could provide a “false sense of security” for candidates, according to a May 2011 directive from Husted.
“It is a well-established principle of election law that the candidate is solely responsible for ensuring that his or her petition satisfies the requirements of law,” Husted’s directive said.
Alberini said elections board staff will continue to provide each person turning in petitions with a checklist of requirements and will “highly recommend” that the person follow all parts of the checklist.
The board also learned that it cannot implement a suggestion from board member Ron Knight that would have reduced the number of voting machines used at each polling place based on statistics indicating how many people vote at various elections.
For example, many more people vote at presidential elections than at any other.
Knight’s goal was to reduce costs associated with preparing and moving voting equipment, but Husted’s office requires the same number of voting machines to be used at each election, Knight said.