Presidential Campaign

Confessions of an Ohioan ‘Trumpian’ poll watcher

Donald Trump says the election is “rigged.” He has asked for observers to fan out to polling places across America to watch and report.

That’s why, at the urging of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, I mailed in my application to be an Election-Day poll worker. You see, I am a rare breed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio — a registered Republican. I live in Ohio’s most populous and most heavily Democratic county.

{mosads}It desperately needs Republicans for balance and is reaching out to “People Like Me” — PLM — to work at polling places. As Cuyahoga County goes so goes Ohio, and as Ohio goes so goes the presidency. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.


The thing is, I only registered as a Republican in Ohio’s open primary so I could vote against Donald Trump. Just like I registered as a Republican in 2000 so I could vote for John McCain and against George W. Bush.

And while the John Kasich I observed running for the Republican presidential nomination this year seemed alien to the John Kasich I had come to know over many years of observing Ohio politics, I became a Republican on Primary Day just to vote for “the new” John Kasich and against the @realDonaldTrump.

But by becoming a “Republican-in-Registration-Only” — a RIGO — I have learned that PLM fit several neat political niches. First, I was recruited to be an official Republican poll worker, which never would have happened if I didn’t become a RIGO.

Next, I learned that I am among the “surge” in newly registered Republican voters. This gives Trumpians the idea that they have a good chance at winning in Ohio and other battleground states. Let me dissuade all of the Trumpians not to read too much into this. RIGOs are not RINOs and certainly not Trumpians.

If Ohio is the key swing state in electing presidents, then Cuyahoga County is the state’s omphalos. A Republican presidential candidate cannot win Ohio without seriously cutting into the overwhelming black Democratic vote here. And with Trump polling at optimistically about one percent of the black vote that’s just not going to happen.

In 2012, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, 69.3 percent to 29.6 percent, in Cuyahoga County, which cast 645,212 votes in the presidential election. Obama carried Ohio with 50.1% of the vote to Romney’s 48.2%.

With nearly 421,000 votes to Romney’s 184,475, Cuyahoga was Obama’s strongest showing in any Ohio county and carried the state for him. Of the 1.25 million residents in the county, slightly more than 30% are black. In the city of Cleveland, with slightly under 390,000 residents, 53% are African-American and about 10% Hispanic.

Obama won 888 precincts to Romney’s 175 in 2012. In 40% of the county’s 1,063 precincts, Obama won at least 80% of the vote. In the eastern part of the county, Romney was shutout in 16 Cleveland precincts and one in East Cleveland. He received only one vote in another 19 precincts in Cleveland, East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights. Obama won 88.3 percent of the vote in Cleveland.

The 2012 election marked the fifth straight time the Democrat showing in Cuyahoga County increased. Bill Clinton received 60.8 percent in 1996; Al Gore 62.6 percent in 2000; John Kerry 66.6 percent in 2004; and Obama 68.9 percent in 2008. The last candidate to do better than Obama, Lyndon Baines Johnson, picked up 71.5 percent against Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Back in 2012, conspiracy theorists couldn’t conceive how Barack Obama received more than 99% of the vote in more than 100 Cuyahoga County precincts and that Romney received zero votes in a substantial number of precincts.

They claimed that the voting results in these 100 precincts could only be described as “truly bizarre.” How could Obama get over 99% of the votes in those areas? How could Romney only get two votes or less in more than 50 different precincts?

Truly bizarre? Or rigged? Since 2012, I am unaware that there was any “rigging” discovered. If the 2016 Presidential race is “rigged” to favor Hillary and “stolen” from Trump, it will happen right here in Cuyahoga County. And if it is, I will, as a RIGO, have a front row seat to call foul. Or to call fair.

You see, I’m not volunteering to be a poll worker because Donald Trump put out the clarion call to catch the cheating, but in spite of it. How dare he?

David Eden is a writer in Beachwood, Ohio.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 presidential election Al Gore Barack Obama Bill Clinton Cleveland Democratic Party Donald Trump John Kerry John McCain Ohio poll watching Republican In Registration Only Republican Party rigged election United States voters
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