Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members don’t demand full accounting of erroneous email sent by managers last week, focus instead on poll worker recruitment

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members on Monday did not ask for a full accounting of why managers sent two emails last week that may have left thousands of prospective poll workers confused about whether they were needed Nov. 3. © Joshua Gunter cleveland.com/Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Board […]

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members on Monday did not ask for a full accounting of why managers sent two emails last week that may have left thousands of prospective poll workers confused about whether they were needed Nov. 3.



Board members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections during a Monday meeting did not ask for a full accounting of poll worker email issues that occurred last week and instead focused on poll worker recruitment.


© Joshua Gunter cleveland.com/Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS
Board members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections during a Monday meeting did not ask for a full accounting of poll worker email issues that occurred last week and instead focused on poll worker recruitment.

Board members instead focused a portion of their Monday meeting on poll worker recruitment and whether they were on track to hire enough people to adequately staff the polls on election day.

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The embarrassing problem with emails arose last week as part of the board’s efforts to recruit people to fill 1,000 or more poll worker jobs in advance of the Nov. 3 general election.

One email, sent to applicants on Tuesday, falsely stated there were no current poll worker openings. A second email, sent Wednesday and billed as a “brief update,” stated the board was still processing applications and would be in touch soon, but failed to explain that the Tuesday email had been sent by mistake.

Elections Director Anthony Perlatti then sent a third email Thursday acknowledging the erroneous email. Perlatti also told cleveland.com that managers had failed to comply with his instructions to acknowledge their mistake in the second email.

On Monday, Perlatti briefly and cryptically summarized for the board a staff meeting he had called because of the mix-up.

“Things came out in that meeting we were unaware of and was not what we wanted to hear,” Perlatti said. “So, we’re at a micromanagement level now… and in a short time we’ve really turned things around.”

Perlatti has blamed “human error” for the email-related problems. But he and a board spokesman did not immediately respond to cleveland.com questions on Monday about what specifically was learned during the staff meeting, or what was being done to remedy the issues.

Also left unanswered are questions cleveland.com posed Friday about whether Perlatti disciplined anyone for ending the erroneous email or for failing to follow his instructions to acknowledge the error in the second email.

Board Deputy Director Shantiel Soeder is now working on recruiting efforts with staff, Perlatti said Soeder told the board Monday that staff is “going to do a much better job” of communicating with potential workers.

Board Chairman Jeff Hastings on Monday wanted to know whether everyone who had applied to be a poll worker had received a message stating the board was ready to train them for the open positions.

Soeder said batches of such emails were sent on Friday and over the weekend. The final batch of emails were to be sent by the end of the day on Monday, Soeder said. All told, emails were being sent to about 4,000 new applicants that could be eligible to serve as precinct election officials in the county, Soeder said.

The board is also working through hundreds of poll worker applications separately received by the Secretary of State’s Office; some notices were sent to such applicants on Friday, and more emails were expected to be sent sometime this week, Soeder said. In those efforts, elections officials are prioritizing outreach to Republican applicants because Republican workers are “always short” in Cuyahoga County, Soeder said.

Poll worker placements are dependent on the locations where an applicant could work, and their party affiliation, as two-person teams – one Republican and one Democrat – are needed for many election-related functions. Elections officials are also seeking a back-up pool of poll workers to compensate for anyone who drops out between training and election day.

Asked by another board member on Monday whether elections officials are confident they will have enough poll workers on hand to administer the election, Perlatti said he thinks the board will. He expects the number of open positions to drop in “big chunks” as new applicants respond to the training emails sent out between Friday and Monday.

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