Former Elections Officials:
Current Elections Officials:
Secretary of State, 1999-2006
May go down in history as Ohio’s worst elections official. His directives were so late, erratic and restrictive, Democrats charged he was working to suppress the vote. Issued a ruling (later rescinded) that registrations should be rejected if they were on paper of the wrong thickness. Meanwhile, served as honorary co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign. The End: Ran for governor in 2006; lost by 24 percentage points. The Part: Eddie Murphy mixing his Nutty Professor persona with Samuel L. Jackson’s Biblical vengeance in Pulp Fiction, or Samuel L. Jackson doing the reverse.
Secretary of State, 2007
Best Moments: Fired old Cuyahoga County elections board. Clarified key election rules. Released study of voting systems’ security flaws. Worst Moments: Pushed for new voting systems that the state wouldn’t pay for and that would lose votes. Fought with Republicans in Legislature and on election boards. DEFENSE: “I’m coming at this as a former judge and someone who cares deeply about making sure voters have confidence in the election system.” The Part: Strong woman, seems organized and in control, until anxiety leads to hasty decisions — Julianne Moore, combining her turns as FBI agent Clarice Starling in Hannibal and as Boogie Nights’ panicky porn queen, Amber Waves.
Cuyahoga County Elections Director, 2003-2007
Sounded smart; terrible manager. Ignored complaints about poll chaos in 2004, so the problems got worse in 2006. Didn’t prepare poll workers for electronic voting. Oversaw a botched presidential recount that led to criminal charges against employees. The End: Quit before he was fired in February 2007. The Part: A brilliant computer nerd, oblivious to crisis: perhaps Ken Leung, science team member on Lost and Uncle Junior’s unstable buddy on The Sopranos.
Cuyahoga County Elections Director, 2007
Best Moments: A better manager than Vu, she’s made lots of little fixes that add up. Had 43 employees taking poll workers’ calls on election days; Vu had as few as four. More open with the public. Worst Moments: Cost of elections still extremely high, straining the entire county budget. Convinced board to buy voting scanners for $13.4 million from ES&S, the vendor for March’s election; competing bid was $3.7 million cheaper. DEFENSE: “Now is not the time to experiment with new systems again. We already went through the horror of a system that failed us.” The Part: Younger woman, actually well-organized and in control, single-minded in the face of anything, including budgets: Gillian Anderson, with the toughness of Agent Scully in The X-Files. We want to believe.
|Old Board of Elections
pictured: Bob Bennett, 1998-2007
Ignored complaints that thousands of votes were lost in 2004. Defended workers indicted on charges of taking illegal shortcuts in 2004 recount. Chose the flawed $21 million Diebold touchscreens. The End: Fired by new secretary of state in March 2007. The Parts: Three men and one woman ignoring dire warnings, filibustering in self-defense: Michael Moore, clean-shaven, doing an ironic, campy Bob Bennett?
|New Board of Elections
pictured: Sandy McNair, 2007
Best Moments: Fewer partisan fights than old board. More diligent and thorough. Worst Moments: Adopted a vote-scanning system for March that lost votes, and tried to keep it for November. Thwarted; bought the more expensive of two systems. DEFENSE: “I think [turnout] this November is going to be unprecedented,” says McNair. “It was a wiser course to stay with the system we knew would work.” The Parts: Four smart, snappy arguers — prosecutors from Law and Order, especially Sam Waterston as Sandy McNair.
Cast of Characters
12:00 AM EST
August 27, 2008