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Voice of the people: Bob Raymond




It's worse than you think! 


Sunday's article about the absentee-ballot scheme in Columbus is only the tip of the iceberg. I worked the polls at Union Academy this past week. After a three-hour training session and a copy of the guidelines from the Sec. of State's office, I felt I was slightly prepared for the task.  


I worked with some delightful people, who also took their job seriously. 


However, one of the people that I was working with was black and was terribly rude to any white person who came in as an observer. It was not his position to conduct the voting. The bailiff ignored the situation. 


At the end of the night, it became very apparent what a sham this election was. One of the duties outlined in the training manual is that poll workers should inspect the absentee ballots and make sure that the two signatures match, and a few other details. 


The first two ballots we opened had signatures that were obviously different. 


I challenged the first one and handed it the worker next to me, who just happened to be the wife of the man who was being rude to white voters. The wife agreed that the signatures looked different.  


Just then, Brenda Williams, the city registrar, approached our table and told us we had no business looking at signatures. I politely told her it was listed as one of our closing duties. She shouted at me that I was not a handwriting expert and that I was not to look at the signatures. I asked her if she would put that in writing and she shouted back, "You put it in writing!"  


I told her it would be my word against myself. Luckily, a woman who was observing as Mark Ward's representative had a notepad and wrote-down exactly what Mrs. Williams said.  


Later, Mrs. Williams denied that she had ever said anything like that and then said the same thing three more times.  


An election commissioner stepped-in with the rule booklet and showed Brenda the part about our duties to inspect the signatures. Brenda told her that the booklet was wrong. 


There was also an 800-hotline election number to the Sec. of State's office. I dialed the number and was put on hold. While I was holding, the man who had been rude to white voters started shouting to Mrs. Williams: FIRE HIM! FIRE HIM! You hired him, you can fire him. 


Mrs. Williams finally left the room and the shouting man told me that I could not work there. 


Again, this should have been something decided by the bailiff.  


I told the shouting man I was going to do my part of the work. He screamed, "You quit! You quit!"  


I told him that I had done nothing of the sort and he retorted: "You quit when you dialed that number!" 


After sitting there for several minutes, doing nothing, I approached an election commissioner and requested permission to leave since I was not allowed to work.  


Since Mrs. Williams is running the show, there's no telling what was going-on at the other precincts. 


The next day, I phoned the Sec. of State's office and told a woman what had happened. She told me that what was in that training manual was state law and that it should have been followed. She said she would phone Brenda (She seemed to know who she was.) and let her know that what she did was wrong. I asked her to phone me after she had spoken to Brenda, and she said that she would call me that afternoon. She never did. 


Bob Raymond 





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