Secretary of State Rejects Obama Campaign Letter Attempting to Authorize Poll Observers

This doesn't seem like a real big deal, but Marc Armbinder has copies of an authorization letter that the Obama campaign attempted to use to authorize poll observers, and a letter written by a Deputy Secretary of State informing the Obama campaign that the letter is legally insufficient.

It sounds like the Clinton campaign is over-reacting, calling it part of a "pattern" of disruptive actions and comparing the episode to the conduct of Republicans in 2004. Puh-leez.

Ross County Also Seeks Emergency Order Due to Flooding

The Chilicothe Gazette has just posted an story reporting that "regional flooding is shutting down roads and shut out voters at some precincts in Ross County today," causing the Board of Elections to seek a court order allowing voters closed out of polling places to vote provisionally at the board's main office. This is in addition to the ten counties already mentioned over at BSB.

The story also says that one other county "has extended voting hours to accommodate flooded out voters," but doesn't say which one. Does anyone know?

Video of Ohio primary voter: 95 years old & counting on McCain

Great thank you out to Dr. Herman C. Weinberg for letting me interview him this afternoon. Wiggins Place is part of the Menorah Park Complex in Beachwood, Ohio, several miles east of Cleveland. My oldest child volunteers there every week and works with the tenants on the computers (he’s been doing this since June or July). They love him there and indulged me today.

Please, watch, listen and learn.

Washington Post/Newsweek Live Web Broadcast Tonight

Just in case CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast networks leave you jonesing for more political coverage tonight, or you want to see talking heads on your computer and TV at the same time, the live-streamed broadcast by and looks good. They are doing a preview at 4:30 p.m. EST, followed by a three-hour live broadcast starting at 7:00 p.m. Here is the line-up of analysts: Bob Woodward, Dan Balz, Chris Cillizza, Anne Kornblut, Howard Fineman, Michael Isikoff, Holly Bailey, and Eleanor Clift. They also plan to get insights from a host of others, including from Ohio our own Sen. Sherrod Brown and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

Paper, or Electronic? Primary Puts Spotlight On Voting System Switch

Today is the big test for Cuyahoga County's changeover from electronic voting to paper ballots and optical scanners. A few days ago The Plain Dealer published a guest editorial by University of Maryland Political Science Professor Paul Herrnson, arguing that the switch creates more problems than it solves. Today Cuyahoga County BOE member Sandy McNair responded, defending paper ballots and pointing out extensive security measures adopted by the board to prevent ballot tampering.

Don Hollister, a former current member of the Green County Board of Elections, continues the discussion with the following comment. - Jeff

[Herrnson's] article confirms my experience as a Board of Elections member in Greene County. Although I refused to vote for the touch screen (Diebold DRE) machines that we did buy, their performance in the five recounts that we have had has been consistently perfect. That is, the count on the electronic memory cards has been exactly the same as on the paper roll that also records the vote.

I recognize that there are many problems with these machines, but once a vote is recorded accuracy seems to be assured. This was not the case with the punch card system that we had before nor is it with the optical scan system that we have used for mailed absentee and early voting ballots. The punch cards, essentially old IBM cards, were counted by a computer that recorded light shining through the punched holes. The famous hanging chads would flip in and out of place. Thus, with the punch cards we considered a variance of two or three votes per precinct (400-800 votes) as routine "chad error" not meriting further hand recount.

Absentee Voting Was Heavy in Cuyahoga County Yesterday

There were long lines at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections yesterday, the last day for voting absentee ballots in person at the board offices. The Plain Delear reports that more than 1,200 people voted absentee in person yesterday, and public radio station WCPN reports that people waited about 90 minutes.

Big last-day absentee voting could signal big interest in the primary election and therefore a big turnout today. It could also have to do with the forecast of bad weather, causing some voters to decide to get voting out of the way in advance, or it could be a result of the emphasis on early voting in GOTV calls and canvassing.

Democratic Congressional Primaries

The presidential primary has grabbed all the attention the last few weeks but there are eight contested Democratic primaries in congressional races being decided today.

I expect Victoria Wulsin to defeat Steve Black handily in OH-02. Wulsin has a raft of endorsements and high name recognition. Black started out behind, lagged in fund-raising, and took the race in a sharply negative direction.

Jane Mitakides should easily secure the nomination in OH-3, bouyed by the Dayton Daily News endorsement and her experience from running in this district in 2004. David Esrati (D-Dayton) ran an innovative campaign as an outsider activist but doesn't seem likely to have generated broad support across the district. Former mayor Charles Sanders (D) ought to pack it in after this campaign, after his previous unsuccessful efforts in this district and OH-02.

Should Clinton Drop Out If She Loses Ohio or Texas?

This ABC poll says that a big majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think that Hillary Clinton should stay in the race even if she loses one of the big two primaries today:

67% Stay In
29% Get Out

This despite the fact that a fairly strong majority (50% to 43%) prefer Obama as the nominee.

What do you think?

Final Zogby Tracking Poll: Race Tied; Undecideds Up to 8%

Here is the final two-day tracking poll from Zogby (with daily results from prior four days):

44% (45%) (47%) (45%) (44%) Clinton
44% (47%) (46%) (45%) (42%) Obama
_3% _(2%) _(1%) _(3%) _(5%) Someone Else
_8% _(6%) _(5%) _(6%) _(9%) Undecided

Pollster John Zogby notes that the undecideds have increased at the espense of Obama, suggesting that Clinton's attacks have had some effect.

Ballot Stub Saga Continues: Cuyahoga County Changes Procedure

I've just been informed that due to widespread concern among voters over removal of the ballot stub that says "Vote Will Not Be Counted If Removed," the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will notify poll workers NOT to instruct voters to remove the stub when placing the ballot in the ballot box.

UPDATE: I've just had a conversation with Mark Griffin, an election observer stationed at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. He clarifies that the BOE is not instructing poll workers to leave the stub attached per se, but instead instructing the poll workers not to make an issue of whether the stub is removed or not. In other words, if the voter doesn't want to remove the stub because of the confusing "Do Not Remove ..." instruction, then the ballot should just go in the ballot box with the stub still attached. The ballots will be counted whether they have the stub attached or not.

Election Day Weather

Poor, but not as bad as initially forecast.

David reports on Ohio Valley Politics that some polling places in Jefferson County (along the Ohio River on the eastern border of the state) have been relocated due to flooding concerns, linking to this Steubenville TV news story.

Redhorse reports that Akron is windy and cold (low to mid-30s with rain and freezing rain, perhaps thunder). He speculates that reduced turnout hurts Obama, based on polls indicating that early voting trended toward Clinton, but then wonders if Obama hasn't caught up among absentee voters due to the emphasis on early voting at Obama rallies, and further notes that Obama voters may be more motivated and therefore more weather resistant (so to speak).

Earl in Wood County (northwest Ohio) reports that snow or freezing rain is expected later in the day in Toledo, and possible freezing rain south of Toledo, with the dividing line running diagonally across the northwest corner of the state. Weather radar shows precipitation sliding northeast out of the southwest.

At the moment (about 10:00 AM), it's raw, cold and windy. Temperature of 28 F. Not a fun day to be standing outside of a polling place.

In Columbus it's currently 36 degrees with light rain, in Cincinnati it's 37 degrees with light rain.

UFCW Airing GOTV Ad For Obama

Here is a Get Out The Vote appeal airing in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. It is produced and paid for by the United Food and Commerical Workers International Union, which endorsed Barack Obama about two weeks ago.

Removal of Stub from Paper Ballot: OK When Placing Marked Ballot in Ballot Box UPDATED

People are confused about the strip or stub along the bottom of the paper ballot that says something like "Do Not Remove Or Vote Will Not Be Counted." When they turn their ballot in after voting, the poll worker removes the stub [or instructs the voter to do so], and the voter then is alarmed about whether the vote will be counted. I have heard reports that the poll workers can be less than clear in explaining what is happening (saying "No, I don't know why" and "Yeah, that confuses us too" and such).

I have confirmed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and with a representative of the Secretary of State that it is proper for the poll worker to remove the stub after the ballot has been marked and handed back to the poll worker. The problem would be if the stub is removed by the voter before marking and returning the ballot. Removal at the time the ballot is placed in the ballot box is proper.

The stub is used to reconcile the ballot book. I'm told that if you look at the ballot box you will see an instruction there to remove the stub and place it in a separate envelope, which is correct. (However, if the ballot is mistakenly placed in the box with the stub still attached, that does not invalidate the ballot -- it will still be counted in that case.)

UPDATE: I've now been referred to the offical poll workers manual, which can be downloaded here (.pdf). Here is the relevant language about removing the stub, which indicates that the voter should remove it (rather than the poll worker) when returning the marked ballot, which appears on page 23:

Make sure the voter removes Stub “A”, places the stub in the Stub “A” Envelope, inserts his/her ballot into the Ballot Box, (the voter must return his/her ballot to the correct precinct’s Ballot Box) returns the marking device and the secrecy sleeve.

Early turnout: moderately heavy with lots of "switchers"

I voted today at about 7:20 AM. Turnout was fairly heavy for that hour in my little hamlet in rural Wood County. Three people were in line when I arrived.

But here's what is more interesting: between the time the polling station opened at 6:30 AM, and forty five minutes later when I voted, about six people had filed the declaration to switch sides from one party to the other.

Meanwhile to the north, the chair of the functionally (and literally) bankrupt Lucas County Republican Party has been talking to the media about Republican voters switching sides in order to vote against Hilary Clinton.

If they think that it will be easier to run against Senator Obama over Senator Clinton, then they are even more delusional than I had suspected.

But always remember, Tip O'Neill was right: "all politics ARE local." Some past nominally Democratic voters might be pulling Republican ballots, either to vote for McCain or to vote in the hotly contested Wood county GOP primary for prosecutor, where there are four candidates. There are no Democrats on the ballot for that position (again... /sigh), so just as with our race for sheriff a few years ago, whoever wins the GOP primary, gets the office.

The weather is definitely going to be an issue later on in the day. During the heaviest voting hours this afternoon and early evening, the forecast is for freezing rain and sleet. Currently, it is 30 F. and heavily overcast. The grass is covered with a mix of snow and ice and the back roads in rural areas are "iffy."

Some jurisdictions in the area (Perrysburg, for example) have virtually run out of road salt and cannot get any more from their supplier. However, reports are that what remaining emergency supplies they have on hand, will be used on roads near schools and polling places (often the same thing.)

Which means that if we get any MORE ice storms after today, we are so screwed...

OH-02: 939 to 42

The Wulsin campaign made ID calls tonight today, connecting with over 2,700 voters. Identified voters were 939 for Wulsin, 42 for Black.

Pretty good ratio.

OH-02: Wulsin Results Watch Party 3/4

03/04/2008 - 8:00pm
03/04/2008 - 10:00pm

8:00 p.m.

Arnold's Bar & Grill
210 E 8th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Obama Primary Results Watch Parties 3/4

After the break are details on Obama results watch parties across the state, just announced by the campaign. These are going on the event calendar as well.

Road to Change: Ohio

A Retrospective of Barack Obama's Journey Through Ohio.

Clinton Election Night Celebration in Columbus 3/4

03/04/2008 - 7:30pm
03/04/2008 - 11:00pm

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 7:30 PM - 11:00 PM

The Columbus Atheneum
32 North Fourth Street
(Near 4th & Gay)
Columbus, OH 43215

Doors open at 7:30pm.

Bad Weather Expected on Election Day

Freezing rain, snow, sleet ... not good. Here is a Cleveland forecast for tomorrow and tomorrow night:

Freezing Rain
High 31°F

Freezing rain...Snow and sleet in the morning...Then occasional freezing rain and rain in the afternoon. Snow and sleet accumulation around an inch. Ice accumulation of less than one quarter of an inch. Brisk with highs in the lower 30s. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.

Tuesday Night
Freezing Rain/Snow
Low 29°F

Freezing rain or snow or sleet with a chance of rain in the evening...Then snow after midnight. Additional snow and sleet accumulation around an inch. Brisk with lows in the upper 20s. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph...Becoming north 5 to 10 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.

Why is the weather always nasty when it's time to vote in Ohio?

Update from Earl: Ain't that the truth! I remember spending one election day in front of the BGSU campus polling place, handing out leaflets with Mike Zickar in sleet and freezing rain. It was a long day.


The weather here in the NW part of the state is already turning bad. Temperatures are falling into the the 30's, and it's raining.

Justin (our newest front pager here at ODB) just asked me what effect I thought that the weather would have. I suspect that it will slightly diminish turnout across the entire northern tier of the state. It's tough to predict who it will tend to favor. But I know that in some places with long outdoor lines, it's gonna be miserable.

Obama: No Events in Ohio Tomorrow

David Kurtz points out at TPM that Obama didn't make any appearances in Ohio today and won't be coming tomorrow either. Clinton was in Toledo this morning, flew to Texas, and will be in Ohio tomorrow night if not sooner.

It looks like Obama's bottom line is winning one state and Texas is the one he feels he can lock up. Clinton needs to win two, but if she's only going to win one it's got to be Ohio, because it sets up well for Pennsylvania.

Clinton Slams Obama in Misleading Last-Day Mailer

Today I received this Clinton mail piece, which declares in highlighted text that "Barack Obama refused to stand up for union workers" when the Maytag plant in Galesburg, Illinois shut down, and that "a large investor in the company that ran the plant had given nearly $200,000" to Obama's campaigns, clearly implying that Obama deliberately shafted the workers because of the contributions:

For support, the mailer cites this February 2nd story in the Chicago Tribune. What that article says is that union leaders at the Maytag plant are disappointed that Obama didn't personally confront Lester Crown, a director and investor in Maytag, about the plant closing. Crown is a contributor to Obama and his son James is the Illinois finance chairman of the Obama for America campaign. However, the article also states:

1) Obama "did not know Crown sat on Maytag's board until the Tribune noted it last September;" and,

2) "[T]he Maytag workers' union never asked [Obama] to intervene with Crown," Obama "would have done so if they had," but "Union officials said they were unaware of the Crowns' ties to Maytag or to Obama."

So Obama is being slammed for not personally confronting Crown before the plant closed, when Obama didn't know, and the union didn't know either, of Crown's connection to Maytag. Does that justify the charge that Obama "refused to stand up for union workers"? Does it support the inference that Crown influenced Obama with his campaign contributions? Or is it a misleading attack.

Obama Campaign Manager: Keep Your Eye On The Delegate Count

In a memo issued today, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe appears to anticipate narrow victories in Ohio and/or Texas by Clinton, urging a sharp focus on delegates rather than victories in primaries:

[N]arrow popular vote wins in Texas and Ohio will do very little to improve [the Clinton campaign's] nearly impossible path to the nomination. If they do not win Texas and Ohio by healthy double digit margins – and they led by healthy double digit margins as recently as two weeks ago - they will be facing almost impossible odds to reverse the delegate math.

While the Clintons gamely continue to try to move the goal posts, at some point there has to be a reckoning. It is a very simple question – what is their path to secure the nomination? No amount of spin can change the math. We look forward to their tortured answers on Wednesday morning.

Plouffe points out in the memo that Clinton strategist Mark Penn wrote on February 13th that the Clinton campaign expected to be "virtually tied" in delegates after March 4th, that Clinton aide Guy Cecil said on February 13th that the Clinton campaign expected to be "within 25 delegates" after March 4th, and Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said on February 11th that he thought Clinton would be ahead in delegates after Ohio and Texas.

Narrow victories in Ohio and/or Texas would leave Clinton campaign still trailing substantially in delegate. The Obama campaign currently figures that he is ahead by 162, CNN shows Obama ahead by 102, and MSNBC shows Obama ahead by 157. Razor-thin victories in Ohio and/or Texas will not deliver enough net delegates to affect the lead.

New Rasmussen Ohio Poll: Clinton Regaining Upper Hand

Another new poll, more support for the notion that Clinton has regained the momentum in Ohio (figures in parens are from 2/28):

50% (47%) Clinton
44% (45%) Obama
6% (9%) Undecided

During the preceding two weeks Rasmussen had shown Clinton at around 47% or 48% while Obama gained steadily from 38% to 45%. Today's poll reverses that trend.

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