Sunday, April 28, 2013

A problem with the STRS board election? Nawww...there COULDN'T be! Just ask THEM!

Sent: 4/28/2013 10:47:22 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Re: STRS Board: Your Silence Speaks Volumes

Nick --
Thank you for your response; however, we seem to have a problem here. The problem is not in how you or anyone else at STRS interprets the ballot language. That is irrelevant, since you aren't the ones doing the voting. I'm trying to figure out exactly what the problem is at your end. From what I can tell, it has to be one of these:
(1) You haven't seen the ballots
(2) You've seen the ballots but haven't noticed the discrepancies in the ballot language
(3) You've seen the ballots and noticed the discrepancies in the ballot language, but have chosen to ignore the fact that they are negatively affecting the voting of many retirees, which you have been told repeatedly.
(4) You've seen the ballots and the discrepancies in the ballot language, but have chosen to ignore the fact that a problem even exists because of them.
(5) You've seen the ballots and have approved a deliberate attempt to confuse retirees with cleverly crafted, misleading ballot language.
Nick, you need to know there are huge numbers of retirees, from all walks of life (some of whom do not even like each other) who are uniformly convinced that the ballot language and online voting process were NOT accidental. Every one of them feels it helps incumbent board members!
The online voting option is WORSE than the actual ballot, which, as you know, Dr. Leone pointed out to the STRS board at the April board meeting (4/18/13).  When a retiree uses the option to vote online, the paper ballot appears on the screen. But if the retiree DARES to choose to vote for ONE single candidate, then clicking "Send," the system does NOT accept the single vote initially. Instead, up pops a second screen inviting the retiree to vote for a second candidate! If you haven't seen it, take a look! Only when the voter responds to this second screen, by clicking "Confirm," will the vote be accepted.  While the second screen does not force the voter to vote for a second candidate, the message clearly urges voters to do so.  (If not, then WHY is a retiree's first attempt to vote only once stopped dead in its tracks by the online system?)  This is EXTREMELY devious in nature, and completely unacceptable.)  It is like (which Dr. Leone hammered in his STRS Board speech; you were there) STRS sending a second paper ballot to those who sent in their paper ballot with ONLY a single vote.
At this point, I tend to go with number 5 above. You say “STRS Ohio believes the voting materials provided to retirees for this election are clear and correct as presented and that retirees’ votes will be accurately recorded.” I am well aware of what STRS Ohio believes, but the reality is a different picture entirely. "Clear and correct" to STRS, but not to retirees. Who's doing the voting, anyway?
We are not concerned at this point about how the ballots will be recorded; we assume that part will be done accurately. That's not the issue, nor is STRS' acceptance of single votes via paper ballot, phone and Internet ballots. The issue is the fact that the irregularities in the ballot language are causing many people to think they are REQUIRED to vote for two candidates, whether they want to or not. Again, I have to go with number 5. I've heard some people say you (STRS) just don't get it. I disagree. I believe you do get it; STRS knows exactly what it has done; you people aren't dumb, just hearing handicapped when it comes to retirees.
I would appreciate it if you would let me know exactly WHO authored and WHO approved the ballot language which, as you know, is DIFFERENT from that of the last election in 2009. I would also like to know WHY the ballot language was changed. There was no problem with 2009 ballot language. How do you explain this? Once I know who was responsible for this year's ballot language, I can deal with that party directly. Otherwise, this isn't getting anywhere.
If you scroll down you will see a sampling of comments I have received from various retirees. Some of it you may already have seen. You do not need to take my word for it when I say the ballot language is confusing to many voters. Read their words.
Nick, I cannot believe someone in your position would sign a response letter such as the one you sent me, that basically says nothing and totally eludes a response to a legitimate, serious concern. I am still shocked and disappointed that the entire STRS board, some with credentials "up to here", lacked even the courtesy to respond to Dr. Leone's questions at the 4/18/13 board meeting. This is a disgrace, not to mention how badly it reflects on the members of this board, or the disservice it does to the parents, grandparents and teachers who taught them. Unfortunately, this isn't over yet, and it won't be over till justice is done with this election, however long it takes. Infinity, if necessary.
Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
[Inserted here (click): Comments from retired educators, April 2013]
Nick Treneff to Kathie Bracy, April 27, 2013
Subject: Re: STRS Board: Your Silence Speaks Volumes
Please see the attachment in reply to your message regarding the 2013 Retirement Board election.
Nick Treneff
Communication Services Director

Text of Nick Treneff's PDF attachment (referred to above), received 4/27/13:
April 26, 2013
Dear Ms. Bracy,
On behalf of Mr. Nehf and the Retirement Board, I am writing in reply to your questions regarding the Retirement Board election. I appreciate your concern about the ballot language. We have reviewed the voting materials, and as we shared with each of the candidates on April 8, “STRS Ohio believes the voting materials provided to retirees for this election are clear and correct as presented and that retirees’ votes will be accurately recorded.” We also shared that, “Paper, phone and Internet ballots that only contain one vote will be accepted, as well as those ballots that contain votes for two candidates.”
Thank you for writing to share your thoughts with us.
Nick Treneff
Communication Services Director
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