The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution ended the legal practice of slavery in the United States in 1865. President Abraham Lincoln had previously issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared “ that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free.". However, real freedom was not achieved that day.
On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and the army announced the 250,000 people who were enslaved were now freed. It slowly, but surely became our Second Independence Day. The day when we as a nation began a process, not yet completely to end and heal the scars of hundreds of years of legal slavery in North America and especially in our country.
July 4th may have been the day when we declared our independence from England, but this is the day we began the process of making all of us free. Celebrations of Juneteenth began primarily in Texas and the South, mostly as an unofficial holiday. Shortening the name June 19th to Juneteenth. My Mother In Law decades ago told me the stories of employers she worked for giving African American employees the day off with pay. She lived and worked in Texas and it was the first US state to make it an state holiday in 1980.
By 2002 that had grown to eight states. Ohio began celebrating it in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2021 when it became a paid holiday. It became an official Federal Holiday on June 17, 2021.
Our office is closed on Juneteenth. In part because all of the agencies we deal with our closed. But it is also is to give our staff a chance to remember that not all of our clients, and some of our families' ancestors as well, may have been declared free on July 4, 1776, but a sizable group of others had to wait until June 19, 1865. And we still have work to do to atone for the sins and repair the wounds of the sin of slavery in our nation.
So we’re closed that day, but we’ll be back standing up for all working and disabled people in Northwest Ohio, and beyond, on June 20th.
If you don’t know, I have a second, very important job. It’s kind of the culmination of over 14 years of prior volunteer work. I serve as one of the four Board Members on the Lucas County Board of Elections.
In Ohio, by design, each Board of Elections is run in a bipartisan way on everything we do. There are four Board Members, two Democrats and two Republicans appointed by our county party’s Executive Committee and confirmed by our boss, the Ohio Secretary of State. The Chair of that Board has to be the opposite party of the Director, who runs the board’s operations on a day by day basis, and they have a Deputy of the opposite party.
Whenever we do anything, register you to vote, change your address, process your request to vote by mail or at an Early Vote Center, or your polling place, and handle and count your ballots on the way back, each and every step requires both a Democrat & Republican to agree that it should proceed. This is how we’re able to tell you that in the last 50 years in Ohio the legitimate voting percentage is at 99.999999% percent and our Board of Elections post election audits and we do a risk limiting audit almost every election, has an accuracy rate that is above 99.99%.
We are trained to overcome any obstacle, and not give up until we do. In my initial training with the Secretary of State’s office we had to do a table top, simulation, exercise. In mine, our largest polling place was destroyed the night before the election due to a gas leak. All of the equipment was gone, the polling place was gone, and no other building was available of that size. It wasn’t pretty, but we got praised for a good handling of that nightmare.
And since then our team, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of everyone who works on elections in this county, has dealt with worse. I was on the Board in 2020 when due to COVID-19 and the rapid spread of it and lack of protective gear, the Governor and Secretary of State tried to shut the Presidential Primary down, lost their court case trying to do so, after telling everyone it would be not held, and our Public Health Director saving us. We would have pulled it off the next day, but likely we would have created a massive COVID-19 hotspot doing it. And that’s just the worst of many tough scenarios in my a little over four years on the Board.
But this year we have one that may top the others. Earlier this year, House Bill 458 changed dramatically the way we do elections in Ohio. And if you’ve not checked out what that means for voter ID and provisional voting you need to. But it also supposedly eliminated August Special Elections. Our bipartisan advocacy group, the Ohio Association of Elections Officials, were not happy with most of that legislation, but this is one provision we supported.
It takes months to prepare for an election. And giving us a Primary in May, for four Ohio Counties and possible second Primary in September, and the General Election in November is something we can handle, but having another one is August strains us to the brink. So we were very excited to see that party happen.
But then a coalition of special interest groups, including an out of state billionaire, decided that they didn’t want it to be easy for We the People to over rule our legislature and they demanded that this be done in the spot where an August Election would go. And I’ve already written a long blog on why that is a bad idea. But the General Assembly, Governor and our boss decided to make us do this anyway, costing you over $30 Million statewide for this.
The problem is it is Summer. Many of our usual poll workers are busy doing other things. Also, they know we have a September Election to do, followed closely by the November one, and working a polling place is, not exaggerating here, a 15 hour day. Still others are not going to work as they don’t think the General Assembly should be allowed to do this.
But we have to pull off an election, with or without the folks we normally rely on. So far over 400 have stepped up to serve. Up we use more like 1,300 in an election like this. And we wouldn’t be at the needed 1,300 now for any election, but we’re behind were we want to be.
So, I’m asking you, if you’re a registered voter in Lucas County, to consider signing up to work as a poll worker. We pay you for training and your service. Many professionals, including attorneys like myself can get professional continuing education credits for serving. And it’s a vital job in keeping democracy going. And it’s easy to get started.
You can call (419) 213-4001, which the Lucas County Board of Elections main office number. Or if you are computer savvy, go over to our website, lucascountyohiovotes.gov. Go to the Voter Information page, link will follow, and click on the Am I Registered to Vote option in the center of the screen. It’s a good idea to do that anyway as you can check to make sure you’re registered at your current address and with your current name, and you only have until July 10th to fix any of those.
When you’ve entered your info, we have some good information for you, you can see your ballot so you can think about your choices now, you can check your polling place, request or track an absentee ballot if you’ve requested one, print out the form to request one. Or, second down on the list, become a poll worker. Fill in all the blanks with your contact information both email and phone, and we’ll get with you.
Here’s that short cut - https://www.lucascountyohiovotes.gov/voter-information
Sign up now for August, consider doing it again for September, and November. The Democracy you save may be your own.
In 2019 our client was injured when part of the assembly line she worked on fell and hit her between her hip & knee. Doctors and other medical providers are trained to start at the lower end of diagnosis and work their way up. So they usually start at Sprains, Strains, Abrasions or Contusions. Then as your problems persist, they get the tests to show much more serious problems. It become s our job, when these are found, to add them to the allowed conditions in your claim.
As a result of pressure from special interests, mainly people hearing the myth of the "Big Steal" of the 2020 Election, the Ohio General Assembly has dramatically changed how elections are run in Ohio. Despite every study done in the last several decades showing that the legitimate voting rate was already at 99.999999%, they have made it harder to vote in Ohio.