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Issue Date: January 2009

And Another Thing

Erick Trickey
We didn’t need to break the election-emergency glass or pull out our glossary of scary voting jargon. Cuyahoga County’s election-day answer to our question in the September issue — “Are We Ready?” — was yes.

On Nov. 4, I visited the Addison Branch Library in Hough, site of a 2004 voting debacle documented in local filmmaker Laura Paglin’s No Umbrella: Election Day in the City. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. At that hour four years earlier, angry voters stood in a long, stagnant line while poll workers called the elections office for more equipment and staff, but kept getting busy signals.

This time, there was no line. The vote was going smoothly. As I talked with a poll worker, a cell phone rang: The board of elections was calling her to check in.

“They gave us more help [this time],” said precinct judge Alice Jones. “That’s the difference.” Sharper, younger poll workers had replaced slow, elderly ones. Many voters had voted early and were already checked off in the poll books.

Outside the library, Paglin was filming a sequel. I asked her how voting had gone so far. “So far, there’s no comparison,” she said. She’d seen hardly a hitch.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner agreed. On Nov. 25, she declared Cuyahoga County’s fall election a success, and she released the elections agency from special oversight. After four years of confusion and struggle, it was a quiet but vital victory.

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