S A N D U S K Y -- Erie County board of elections officials have announced new guidelines for electronic equipment inside polling stations. The announcment follows recommendations from a goverment consultant after mock voting exercises were conducted last week to explore possible voting problems the board may face during the November 3rd elections.
Among the changes were a complete ban on cell phones with text messaging capabilities. "We found that during the exercises, some younger voters were distracted by incoming texts at the moment they cast their ballots," said Kevin Williams, president of Globotech consulting Inc.
The board's decision comes amid ongoing concerns among state and local officials about the hazards of texting while performing other activities: A young woman recently walked off the Huron pier while text messaging a friend, and multiple motor vehicle crashes have occurred in the last several months because of texting. "Text messaging while walking is dangerous because your eyes can only be one place at a time," said Captain Paul Sigsworth of the Erie County Sheriffs department.
The board of elections fears that the text messaging phenomenon among young people may affect their ability to concentrate.
"The board believes that our younger voters may get into the booth and accidently cast ballots for people they didn't mean to vote for..." said BOE chairman Chris Marinko.
Globotech Consultants issued the 15 page recommendation after observing several young people inexplicably casting votes for Sandusky city commission incumbents.
"After they left the voting booth [Globotech employees] questioned these young folks about whether or not they actually meant to vote for Bob Warner and Craig Stahl," said Williams. "[The young voters] stared at us with a look of shock and shouted "I did what?"
The new guidelines are available for viewing on the Erie County board of elections website.