Thursday, May 02, 2013

A retired superintendent to STRS board: They [the candidates] should not be treated to this type of disrespect in the balloting process

From Ralph Roshong, May 2, 2013
Subject: Voting Ballot Irregularities
TO:  STRS Board Members and Staff, ORSC, State Senators and Legislators
RE: 2013 STRS Retiree Board Member Election Process
I would sincerely hope that the leadership at the STRS Ohio is taking serious and immediate steps to withhold the release of the results of this 2013 election of two retiree persons to the board until the question relating to the issues of ballot language can be resolved.
I am certain that by this time, you have become aware that there needs to be a total review of the election process, paper ballot language, phone ballot language, and the online ballot process.
My wife and I voted online and were astonished that when we submitted our vote, we were prompted to again review our ballot because we could vote for two candidates while we only voted for one. This, to me, is highly irregular.
Have you ever gone in a voting booth in your county, voted for a school board or township trustee election when you have more candidates vying for office than openings? You are instructed you can vote for up to two or three.  BUT do they then examine our ballot and tell us to go back to the booth and vote for more if you only voted for one?
I would dare say that if you discussed these occurrences with any county director of boards of elections, they would be shocked. The same shock would probably come from the Secretary of State's Office.
STRS should be absolutely embarrassed by either this blatant attempt to guide an election result or the inexcusable ineptness which allowed these discrepancies to be a part of the election ballot process. After what candidates go through to just appear on the ballot, they should not be treated to this type of disrespect in the balloting process.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Ralph Roshong 
Retiree, 1991 
Sandusky, OH 44870

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dennis Leone's questions for Mike Nehf re: Ballot Language

From: Dennis Leone 
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 4:16 PM 
To: 'Nehf, Mike' Cc: 'Neville, Bill'; 'Treneff, Nick'; 'Board' 
Subject: Questions

Mr. Nehf -- Thank you for your reply below.

Regarding #1 below:  What was “clear as presented ” (using your words in #1 below) in this matter  is that the ballot issued a command of “Select Two Candidates.” So while you are saying to me that no one at STRS asked the election vendor employed to change the ballot language from 2009, are you also saying that the change just happened on its own, that no one at STRS felt the new ballot language needed to be changed, but that the change occurred mysteriously anyway?  This is not making much sense?  The STRS Board not bothering to even look at the ballot language ahead of time would be like a school board authorizing a bond issue, then not looking at the ballot language before the board of elections printed the ballot.  Hands-off governance at its worst.

Regarding #2 below:  If the ballot information was clear, as you wrote in #1 below, then why did STRS deem it was necessary (as you wrote below in #2) to offer a second ballot to “make voters aware” (using your words in #2 below) that they may vote for up two candidates in this election.  You didn’t feel a need to make it clear with the paper ballot that retirees did not really have to “Select Two Candidates” (even though that is what the ballot said to do),  but you felt a need to make clear with online voters that voters could chose up to two candidates.  Don’t you see the inconsistency?
Regarding #3: Yes, I am well aware that the board may only go into executive session for matters authorized in ORC 121.22(G), but your statement to me (see #3 below) that it would be inappropriate for you to disclose “the content of the executive session”  does not address what I am asking you. I am not asking you to specifically disclose WHAT was discussed in executive session. I do not care to know the specific content of what was discussed. I am simply asking IF the ballot issue or voting concerns WERE discussed in executive. There IS a big difference.  I am entitled to know IF these issues were discussed in executive session. That is all I am asking.  If these issues were NOT discussed in executive session, then you have nothing to worry about. If I asked you whether you discussed the Ohio State Cheerleaders in executive session, my guess is that would quickly say no and you would not dodge the issue.  But for sure, if you DID discuss the Ohio State Cheerleaders in executive session, I suspect you would not want to admit it. Is this perhaps why you are NOT telling me if the ballot issue of election concerns were discussed in executive session?  Yes or no?  Was there executive session discussion about ballot issues or election concerns on 4-18-13 at STRS?

Please provide me with needed clarification and answers to questions above.

Given the large number of retirees who have told me they desired to vote for ONLY one candidate, but – for concern that a single vote would invalidate their ballot – ended up voting for 2 candidates so they would not disobey the “Select Two Candidates” command on the main ballot or the online second ballot, I hereby make the following public records’ request:
I wish to have a copy of all written communications (including – but not limited to – letters, memos, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications) sent by you or received by you in the current fiscal year that pertain in any way to the 2013 STRS Board election, 2103 Board election petitions, 2013 ballot concerns, or 2013 board election process concerns.  (I do not desire copies of any election petitions that were turned in for retiree Board candidates.)  This request includes communications on said topics to or from VR Election Services, STRS employees, or STRS Board members, or copies of communications that were authored by STRS employees or STRS Board members on said topics. Understand that since STRS Board members are public officials, I am entitled to copies of written communications they authored on topics pursuant to this request, whether said communications were generated by  their STRS email system, their home email system, work email system, or any other electronic communication device they have used to communicate information pertaining to said topics.  I am asking you to make sure the board members (who have been in office during the current fiscal year) are made aware of this request and to instruct them to comply with my request with copies of communications they authored on said topics. I am willing to pay the printing costs associated with this request, pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code.

Thank you.
Dennis Leone

From: Nehf, Mike
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 11:27 AM 
To: Dennis Leone Subject:RE: Questions

Dr. Leone, below are my responses to your questions.  Be assured that I have given consideration to the concern you have raised about this year’s Retirement Board election.  I have reviewed these items with my staff and understand that they have been in contact with you throughout the election process.  I believe these responses clearly state STRS Ohio’s viewpoint on the matter.

From: Dennis Leone 
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 7:17 PM
To: Nehf, Mike; Neville, Bill 
Subject: Questions
I would appreciate answers to the following questions:
1. Why does this year’s Board election ballot read “Select Two Candidates” when the ballot in 2009 read “Select Up To Two Candidates?”  In both years, there were 4 retirees running for the 2 open spots on the board.  Response:  VR Election Services, the vendor STRS Ohio hired to administer the election, prepared the ballot – we did not ask the vendor to change the ballot language from what they prepared in 2009.  My communications director subsequently reviewed the voting packet contents in its entirety (including the ballot) and believed the instructions were clear and correct as presented.
2. Why, when I voted for myself electronically this year by clicking the word “submit,”  was my ballot not accepted until a I rejected an additional pop-up reminder that I could cast a second vote?  Response:  The pop-up reminder was included to help make voters aware that they may vote for two candidates in this election.  Voters, whether they vote online, by phone or by mail, are able to cast a vote for only one candidate.
3. Was there any discussion in executive session on April 18 at STRS about matters pertaining to this year’s board election process, election documents, or election complaints expressed by me?  As you know, the Board may enter executive session only in accordance with Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22 (G).  It would inappropriate for me to disclose the content of executive session.
4. What will happen if the active teacher “teller” who volunteered to represent me on May 11 cannot attend the vote tabulation at STRS?   She has just informed me that she may need to have surgery.  Will my board candidacy be jeopardized if there is no active teacher teller present for me on May 11?  There are hundreds of retirees who would enjoy serving as a teller for me, as retirees did in 2005 for both Dave Speas and me. Response:  The inability of your teller to attend the meeting on May 11 will not affect your eligibility to be elected.
Thank you. 
Dennis Leone

Mark Fredrick on STRS board election: Do over!

Mark Fredrick to Mike Nehf and STRS board, April 29, 2013
Dear SIR:
I'm sure you are well aware of the discrepancies in ballot language for the current APRIL, 2013 STRS  retired teacher election ballots, paper or online. IT IS MORE than a minor wording mistake! IT IS FATALLY FLAWED! It MUST be redone to be fair, equitable, and impartial! IN students' terminology; DO OVER!
At least when I was on the ballot in TWO previous  board elections,it was done fairly! In all my usual bluntness, THE SHIT you are trying to pull in favor of retaining the two current board members on this ballot
S T I N K S !!!! If you want to pass the blame along to some other incompetent idiot, feel free to do so, whether it hits the fan at STRS employees, or the outside election running company. BUT it must be stopped! Giving NO answers at the recent board meeting will only infuriate more members. YOU FAIL to respond to the members you serve! DO WE need to come  to Taj Mahal STRS offices to rally our objections as we have in the past? IT CAN BE ARRANGED!!! We are not yet so frail and senile as to have forgotten how it is done!! Thanks to our retirement funds, we are not so poor and unable to make the drive to Columbus! Several of us in a vehicle would have a good time along the way!
IF the membership does not complain enough, you will be with business as usual. I'm sure other retirees are going to follow this matter through legal means also. Why waste all this time, money, energy, fighting, when it is apparent that this flawed election must be redone? It will only leave a further, lingering bad taste in our mouths, and memory in our minds! At least present a minor semblance of respect for the wishes of the membership, and follow their bidding. The skewed results will be challenged and discarded eventually anyway! 
Medina, Ohio.

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

STRS board election 2013: Comments from retired educators, April 2013

STRS should be absolutely embarrassed by this blatant attempt to guide an election result.   They should be severely pressured to cancel the election and go through the process again.  After what candidates go through to just be on the ballot, they should not be treated to this disrespect in the balloting process. We have a problem , or should it be problems!!!!!!!
I was about to mail my ballot when I received these emails. I have sealed my envelope so I don't remember what my mail-in ballot instructions said, but I voted for two so I must have thought I was supposed to. Will this weaken Dennis' chances more than only voting for him? On the mail-in directions that I keep the instructions said "You may vote for up to two", but the page describing the candidates says "Then vote for two candidates using the enclosed mail ballot or by phone or internet." Would it help Dennis if I just vote for one (him) on the internet/phone, or will it invalidate my vote if I just vote for one if my internet/phone option says to vote for two? HELP!! I am really confused now about what to do, but have not mailed my ballot yet. Since it goes to TX I need to mail it soon if I don't vote by internet or phone. Thanks.
What a mess!  I noticed the wording on my printed ballot but just voted for one candidate anyway.  But others here were influenced to vote for two.  What they said to me reflected that.  But what Dennis said about the online voting alone is enough to declare a new election. 
I am appalled by the treatment you received at the Board meeting! You were asking reasonable questions and to have no response seems illegal. Did you find out any info from the attorney that might help? For the Attorney General to get involved, do you have to wait till the ballots are counted? What governmental body, if any??? oversees STRS? Would Cordray be able to give you any suggestions as to how to proceed?
Sometimes I wonder if anyone has a conscience at this point in time. Will be interesting to see what the response is. (if any).
I have received around 15 calls.  2 of them are retired superintendents.  The question was, “CAN I JUST VOTE FOR DENNIS LEONE”.  He is the only candidate that really understands the big picture.  We will not vote for the incumbents.  Unfortunately, Nadine is not in the “name recognition” game.    STRS has lost their communications with the retirees.  Who is at fault?  The election company?  The STRS Staff?  The STRS Board?  The Retirees?  All of the above??
(April 13) I have not as yet received my ballot. When should I expect it , and when should I start screaming?
***** is stunning that the current  official position of the STRS staff and STRS Board is that the “Select Two Candidates” language on the official ballot is okay.  They are completely oblivious to the fact that the ballot has caused thousands of retirees to conclude that they need to pluck down a second name or their ballot will not count at all. This isn’t a problem at all in the eyes of STRS.  Incredible.  We are back to 2004 when Damon Asbury admitted that the staff and the board have “fallen out of touch with the membership.”
I think that the STRS staff, the STRS Board and the VR Election Services did not have an experienced editor carefully review the ballot for language inconsistencies and/or indirections.  Editors at the Ohio Department of Education insisted that all directions/instructions in a document be written with the "same words" to eliminate confusion.  Obviously, that was not done on the ballot instructions. In addition, the two statements used on the ballot (1) "You may vote for up to TWO candidates", and (2) "(Select two candidates)"  have totally different meanings...which is inexcusable to an editor. The other concern "completely fill in the box next to the candidates of your choice" does not follow the standard practice of filling in an oval and marking a X in the box.  Again, an experienced editor would have noted this problem. What is more important now in my opinion is how are the STRS staff and Board and VR Election Services going to rectify the concerns.  That probably will depend on who has "signed off and approved the drafted ballot" at both STRS and VR Election Services.  At issue will be the cost of running a new election, will one or both of the organizations pay for such an election, or will the current election just proceed as usual. In my opinion, elections are U.S. citizens and Ohio citizens most precious rights and the integrity of the election process is paramount.  There should be absolutely no questions about any election!
April 9, 2013 
Where's the fairness in this election?
1. This election needs to be scrubbed and done over again, CORRECTLY, whatever the cost. Most retirees will use the paper ballot, which says ".....completely fill in the box next to the candidates [PLURAL] of your choice", and farther down, "Select two candidates" [again, PLURAL]. Many retirees are going to interpret this to mean they are REQUIRED to vote for two candidates, which is wrong, wrong, wrong!!
The instructions are given as a COMMAND, not an option. Teachers spend their entire careers teaching children to follow directions, and pride themselves on setting the example. So when they are COMMANDED to "select two candidates", what else are they SUPPOSED to do? Which part of "SELECT TWO CANDIDATES" do the decision makers at STRS and VR Election Services NOT understand? If this ballot language is "clear" to them, then we as teachers have failed in teaching them good reading skills. Shame on US!!!
So what should it say on the ballot? Something like this: "You may vote for up to two candidates". No confusion whatsoever; the voter is given an option telling him/her that he/she is permitted to vote for as many as two candidates, but that it is not a requirement.
A remedial English lesson from a teacher: There are four types of sentences: Statement, Question, Exclamation and Command. Multiple choice question for STRS and VR Election Services: In which category does the sentence "Select two candidates" belong?
2. Not only is the language on the paper ballot flawed, but the online ballot is incorrectly worded as well. The first page of this ballot gives the exact same command: "SELECT TWO CANDIDATES". However, if the voter has the AUDACITY to select only one, then a second page pops up with a little caveat: "You may vote for up to two candidates". Heck, they might as well go on and tell the voter his/her pension will be immediately terminated if he/she DARES to vote for only one candidate! Scare tactics? Ignorance? Insensitivity? Who knows, but there it is! But wait! There's more! In their infinite wisdom, they even provided an OPTION for online voters (on the second page) to CHANGE their single vote -- to vote for TWO candidates instead!!! How NOBLE of them! But if you are a paper ballot voter, you don't get an option -- you vote for TWO candidates, OR ELSE!!
3. On April 8, Dennis Leone posed the following questions to STRS, which have not been answered as of this writing:
From: Dennis Leone [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2013 7:42 PM
To: 'Treneff, Nick'; 'Nadine McIlwain'; 'McGreevy, James'; 'Stein, Bob' Cc: 'Board'; 'Nehf, Mike'; 'Neville, Bill'
Subject: Retirement Board Election
The basic questions that need to be answered are these:
1. Why does the official ballot language say “Select Two Candidates.”    The attached statement does not address this satisfactorily.    How did this happen?  The wording certainly does not appear to be accidental.
2. Did the STRS Board approve the ballot language in advance?
3. Does STRS not care that huge numbers of retirees assumed -- by the “Select Two Candidates” command -- that they needed to vote for 2 people in order for their ballot to be valid.  In other words, many made a second selection because they wanted their first selection to be valid.  Do you not believe this?
4. If placing an “X” in the box is okay, why did the instructions state that the entire box needed to filled in?
5. Why did the ballot instructions twice say “Check the name of the candidates of your choice” instead of “Check the name of the candidate(s) of your choice.”
6. The ballot instructions say “For election customer service, call toll-free 1-800-218-4026.”  When I called the board-hired company today, the supervisor who could answer the above questions refused to talk with me.  Why were retirees invited to call customer service, then not given any answers?  The person answering the phone there today promised me I would receive a return call from the supervisor TODAY.  I did not.
Damon Asbury admitted the truth in 2004 when he said publicly: “The STRS Board and the STRS Staff have lost touch with the membership.”  You have done the same in 2013 with an election that has many flaws………and I am not hearing one single admission on the part of the board or the staff that the process should have been better.    Have can you possibly conclude that it was okay for the official ballot language read “Select Two Candidates?”
Please answer my 6 questions above.
Dennis Leone
The text of the "attached statement" (from STRS, unsigned, sent out by Nick Treneff) to which Dr. Leone refers:
[Unsigned memo on STRS letterhead]
April 8, 2013
TO: Candidates for the 2013 State Teachers Retirement Board Election
We are writing in response to concerns raised by wording on the voting materials that were mailed to eligible voters last week. All ballots mailed out included the same set of clear instructions that voters may cast their vote for up to two candidates. Paper, phone and Internet ballots that only contain one vote will be accepted, as well as those ballots that contain votes for two candidates.
VR Election Services, the vendor hired by STRS Ohio to administer the election, has confirmed that paper ballots completed and returned by mail are scanned and then are visually inspected two times to ensure that votes are correctly tabulated. Ballots that show the clear intent of the voter, including those with boxes marked with an “X” or a check mark, will be counted.
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.
4. Why does the memo (above) say "All ballots mailed out included the same set of clear instructions that voters may cast their vote for up to two candidates"? This is absurd! Clear to whom? To those who do not understand what a COMMAND ("Select two candidates") is? I would suggest STRS and VRES consult some experts on the English language, and perhaps an attorney or two, on that one.
5. The very last statement in the memo is particularly interesting. "clear and correct as presented". Clear and correct to WHOM? Obviously they're "clear and correct" to STRS Ohio and VR Election Services, but not to all the voters. Nobody at STRS or VRES is voting, so they don't have the same interest we do in this election. They either don't realize or don't care about the outcome of this election (or perhaps there's another agenda somewhere which we haven't figured out yet), which, if allowed to go on, WILL affect the outcome.
6. Is this the first time STRS board election irregularities have been pointed out to STRS? Absolutely not. Jim Stoll, active teacher member, noticed some flaws four years ago and brought it to STRS' attention. He was told by Mike Nehf, Executive Director, that "I'll be following up on the questions you have presented." Fast forward to April 2013: Nothing's changed! That's leadership?
Jim Stoll to Mike Nehf, April 13, 2009
Subject: STRS Election Ballots
Dear Mr. Nehf,
I just spoke with Laura Ecklar, Director of Communications regarding the Election Ballots which were sent out via VR Election Services.
The conversation did not go well.  In my opinion Ms. Ecklar did not listen nor hear my concerns so I am addressing them with you directly.
It has been brought to my attention by both Active and Retired STRS members that the instructions on the Ballot clearly states and I quote, "Mark your selection by completely filling in the box with black ink or pencil located next to the name of the candidate you choose on the ballot below."
However, as I'm sure you are aware, as I'm told that correspondence was sent to both you and Ms. Ecklar, the envelope, which you put the ballot in, has a box with an simple "x" on the back, inside the box, which I'm told by STRS members was very confusing.
In my conversation with Ms. Ecklar she told me that "each ballot is counted by hand" so that ALL the ballots will be counted no matter how they are marked?"
A couple of things from my perspective:
1)  Is it legal to defy the specific election ballot instructions?
2)  It is confusing and I would just like confirmation from you as Exec. Director whether votes will be counted if there is an "X" in the box, a "check" in the box, any other marks that would be counted,  and/or if it must be completely filled in as the instructions specify.
Lastly, I find it unacceptable that this question or discrepancy was brought to your attention or Ms. Ecklar's attention, and there was no communication as to the resolution of these questions with the 6 candidates involved.   At least there was no communication with me.  I would have thought that STRS would have communicated with all the candidates and assured them that an issue had been brought to the attention of STRS regarding the Election and that it had been addressed and this is the resolution.
Looking forward to hearing from you directly on what the resolution to the above questions will be.
James A. Stoll
Director of Athletics
Sycamore H.S.
7400 Cornell Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242

Jim Stoll to Mike Nehf, April 14, 2009
Subject: RE: STRS Election Ballots

Dear Mr. Nehf,
For everyone's reference I have attached the voting instruction sheet as well as a scan of the envelope.
I hope everyone is in agreement that the instructions are clearly contradictory in the written statement that the box must be filled in COMPLETELY  and on the ballot itself instructions show  "RIGHT" (showing box filled in completely)  and "WRONG" (with a check, "x" , and dot, in the box.  Yet, Ms Ecklar has advised that any mark will be counted?
Additionally, you'll see the outside envelope also has a X in boxes on the outside.
VR Elections Services has in my opinion done an extremely poor job here.  One would have thought after recent federal election disputes that this type of thing would have been eliminated.
My goal here is that all six candidates receive fair consideration of votes cast.  Clarification to those candidates and members is certainly in order.
James A. Stoll

Mike Nehf to Jim Stoll, April 14, 2009
Subject: RE: STRS Election Ballots

Dear Mr. Stoll,
Thank you for your e-mail communication.  I’ll be following up on the questions you have presented.
To quote Jim Stoll regarding the 2013 election, ".....this issue was brought up four years ago in 2009 election and Mr. Nehf assured he'd follow up on these election concerns. Poor leadership .... Nothing has changed and unfairness abounds.  Can you spell incompetence!!!"
          Mike Nehf

For the record, many retirees are still concerned about the necessity of filling in the little box(es) in front of the candidate's/candidates' name(s). A very small thing to VR Elections Services, but a hassle to many voters. A box is a perfect design for an "X", but to fill it in, one is likely to end up with a lot of messy back-and-forth scratch marks. If VRES wants it filled in, why don't they provide little circles or ovals, which are MUCH easier to fill in? A small thing, using boxes, perhaps, but a sure sign of stupidity on somebody's part! Out of lifelong experience, many voters will see the boxes and automatically use an "X". Or probably TWO "X's" since they fear their ballot will be invalidated if they do not "SELECT TWO CANDIDATES". Same thing filling in the boxes: "Gee, I'd better vote for TWO candidates, even though I was planning to vote for only ONE, because I don't want my ballot to be tossed out for not following directions!!"
Florida, move over with your hanging chads. Here comes STRS Ohio!!
Kathie Bracy, Retiree
STRS Ohio member since 1965

(April 26) I never have received one of the ballots.  Sounds like another one of their crooked attempts to have the voting go their way, the WRONG way !! Thanks, John for keeping us posted.  It appears that this board is a smaller version of our national politicians.
I have received the other emails and forwarded some that were not duplicates. It is a very rigged system and not sure politicians have any gumption to correct it.
This is the dirtiest election yet.
A lot of retired teachers [at my retirement home] came up to me and asked who they should vote for as a second candidate because "it said 'Vote for TWO'"
The form is worded terribly ("Vote for Two") and the fill in the box as opposed to the customary "X" is a disgraceful attempt to take votes from Dennis.  No doubt in my mind.
Stein and McGreevy should recuse themselves from ANY discussion regarding the election.  This is a true conflict of interest.
Since there can now be doubt in the validity of the election, there should be a re-vote. A re-vote may be expensive of our STRS, already short of funding; but it is a public relations and a moral necessity.
I am asking for a new vote using the same wording on all forms, allowing phone in and online voting to permit one vote f that is desired without reprimand or encouragement to vote for two candidates.
Many expressed concern and confusion over differing language on different ballots: Select two or You may vote for up to two
Standard form of marking a box with an X or filling in bubbles was not used. Instead filling in a box was used.
Many have challenging lives and may resort to standard form and many felt they had to vote for two candidates to validate their ballot.
OEA and OFT have money and power to put their candidates in every home with their magazine Ohio Schools and phone calls asking for votes for their candidates.  Leone has only his name from years ago and some emailers to spread the word.   This is already an unfair balance and it seems adding confusion to the mix can only result in more inequity.
OEA and OFT do not want Leone as he brought changes to STRS unwelcome by them but fair to retirees. We only have 2 seats on the board and that is inequitable with 5 active members for the total membership. Retirees are nearer to 1:2 of membership.
Dennis, there is another incorrect thing about the voting for an STRS retiree. I tried four times voting by telephone. My plan was to vote for only you. It would not accept my vote. It kept saying it was an invalid ballot. In other words it would not permit me to vote for only one candidate which is wrong. I did a mail-in ballot voting for only you. I hope they accept it as a valid ballot.
My thought on this that the powers that be heard some retirees were planning to vote for only you which would have the effect of giving you more votes while another candidate would get one less vote.
This ballot confusion is unbelievable.  Have never seen or heard of anything like this. I understand giving an advantage to the incumbent, but, to confuse the entire electorate goes far beyond that. If such was not deliberate, then it demonstrates an unbelievably high level of incompetency.
Does board membership require a vow of silence? Their arrogance and insensitivity is overwhelming! I hope they treat their aging parents a lot better than this. Didn't anyone ever teach them manners?
Dear Mr. Nehf,
Was the company that was employed to handle the STRS Board Election another of the “Best and Brightest” that were available?
The inconsistency on directions for the voting process is a terrible error.  It says vote for up to 2 in one location and on another location it says vote for 2.
When I voted via the internet it responded somehow that was I certain that I only wanted to vote for 1 candidate.  I sent the ballot and did not keep a copy.  Maybe my memory is incorrect, but the examples of the inconsistency in the ballots that have been posted on the internet tonight illustrate that there were errors.
FYI, I suspect that there will be challenges to the election with the Ohio  Secretary of State.  Mr. Nehf, I have never seen so many retirees so upset.  You have a MAJOR CREDIBILITY PROBLEM.  This is a far error beyond your defense of Laura (Everything is Beautiful) Eckler, Stephen (I Only Hire the Best and the Brightest) Mitchell, and the attitude that many “Malcontents” that have no knowledge of our mission to serve the retirees.
I’m sorry Mr. Nehf, but this issue may be far more serious that Mr. Neville can represent you in potential legal actions.
With great sadness I am sending this email.

Several ballot images shown here -- VERY inconsistent. As far as filling in the boxes, that's a new one to me, and I've been voting for over 50 years. We've filled in ovals many times on tests, surveys, etc., but I've NEVER seen a box that didn't require an "X". Ovals are a lot easier to fill in than boxes. I wonder why they didn't use them.
Just voted today for the STRS election but found a flagrant inconsistency in the directions. The first attachment contains the paper ballot I received in the mail. It specifically says, "(Select two candidates)" Many people who just read this ballot, and do not vote by computer, will think they have to vote for 2 candidates....and not one or three or four or none. They just followed the directions as told and mailed in their paper ballots.
I decided to vote by computer so I entered the proper destination and hit the enter key. I was taken to the voting area where it asked me to enter the last 4 digits of my SSN and my 6 digit PIN number which was printed in my election package I received through the U.S. Mail.
After entering my SSN and PIN numbers my ballot appeared with the candidates liste and the same instructions appeared at the top of the names, "(Select two candidates)" This is the second attachment to this email.
NOW...FOR THE INCONSISTENT PART.....AFTER I VOTED FOR ONE CANDIDATE ONLY(DENNIS LEONE) THE NEXT SCREEN THAT POPPED UP IN FRONT OF MY EYES SAID, AND I QUOTE, "YOU MAY VOTE FOR UP TO TWO CANDIDATES."  WHY WAS THIS NOT SAID ON THE ACTUAL COMPUTER BALLOT WHEN I VOTED??????????????? Yes, the second screen (the one that came up after I voted) gave me the option to "Recast your Ballot" but how about those who mailed in the paper ballot? THEY HAD NO SECOND CHANCE TO RECAST THEIR BALLOTS AFTER THEY WERE TOLD THAT THEY MAY HAVE VOTED "FOR UP TO TWO CANDIDATES?" (See the third attachment and you will see what I am talking about!
Still fuming,
How could it not be intentional?  When they run the ballots, they are all run at the same time or from the same computer input.  I find it hard to believe that it is a mistake. 
An attorney that committed fraud said it was a mistake.  Really??  A change like that is wrong.  There needs to be a new election which is fair.  To not include Dennis shows what they were thinking.

They should all be the same.  Is this election fraud? How would that work in a Federal or State Election??????  Shouldn't there be a new vote and all candidates' background be given to everyone?
I received my ballot for STRS Board and hurriedly marked an "X" by Dennis Leone. Then I read that you should completely fill in the box for the ballot to count. Please let all our members know this!
I just received my “snail mail” ballot for our STRS Retired Teacher Board position. The surprise was that there are 2-spaces for write-in candidates. Please, do not write in a name. If you do it will take-away votes from Dr. Dennis Leone.
After reading this letter, please call STRS and complain about the ballot language.  It was not uniform on all ballots and was confusing.  The attitude of people who do not feel the need to answer questions asked about serious problems will become arrogant and do what they please instead of doing what is right for their constituents.  We faced this earlier in this century and fought the good fight to force the board to make changes that protected us from wrong doing and questionable actions.  It is very important that we act in the early stages of wrong doing in this cast to send a clear message that we are willing to take action again and will not accept slip shod actions of this kind.  This may seem small but it can change the election to the board and could be an action to change the outcome of the election.
Please hold their feet to the fire and call STRS and ask that this election be null and void and a new one with one ballot language for all of the ballots that we can use.  The number to call is 1-888-227-7877.  Then send a statement about your feelings about it by email to as this will go to the current board members.
Also call ORTA and ask them to voice their objections to these ballot problems on behalf of all the retirees in Ohio.  That number to call is 1-614-431-7002 or email them at as this is a problem for all retirees and they should take action on our behalf.
Please pass this on to other retirees that you know as this is a issue of ethics and fairness!!!!!!!!!!!

Please look at the different ballot language on these ballots for this election and read the email I am sending following his mailing.  It is absolutely WRONG for this type of action by the STRS board in allowing this to happen.  Many cast ballots for two thinking they had to when they could have voted for one.  We must hold the board to high standards or we will have the same problems we encountered in the early 2000s.  Please read the following email and make a call to STRS to complain.  If we do not act when the board makes a mistake things will just get worse because they think they can get away with anything.
I am trying to get the word out to my fellow retires asking them to vote for Dennis. They in turn are asking me for recommendations on the second seat. One friend told me she received a call from OEA asking her to vote for McGreevy and Stein. I'm not surprised that OEA is not backing  Dennis, but I am disappointed - they obviously have not learned their lesson, nor have they regained my trust. Can you give me any input on who should receive my second vote?
How come I did not hear one word from anyone at STRS today about the confusion and consternation caused by the “Select Two Candidates” ballot language and Internet language? Not one word. (April 8)
Dennis Leone

I was appalled to read of the STRS Board's treatment of Dennis Leone at the last meeting.
ANY retiree deserves to be heard and have a response to his/her question(s). Certainly, a former Board member and candidate for a seat on the Board is entitled to have an oral response. SILENCE in this case is not golden.
Shame on all of you for your rudeness!
The Board has forgotten that retirees are the stakeholders, and it is their contributions funding the salaries and bonuses of the STRS administrators and employees.
If elected Board members choose not to respond, they should be voted out. However, with the "flawed" voting ballots in this election, that will be difficult to do.
The entire election should be scrapped and new ballots issued to all retirees. These ballots should be "proofread'' by individuals who are able to distinguish consistencies and inconsistencies relating to the number of candidates for whom you must vote. Total confusion! I'm sure there are a number of retired teachers who would happily volunteer to check the accuracy of new ballots before they go out.
The question that "begs" an answer: who was responsible for approving the ballots?
How interesting that no one will take responsibility for this debacle! The lack of response only reinforces that errors were made, and no one wants their head to be the one to roll.
I'll be waiting for my new ballot!
Not only are there problems with the mail-in paper ballot and the computer voting, there are also problems with the phone voting.  I followed the directions exactly three times trying to vote for only one candidate and all three times I was told my vote was not valid. They wanted me to vote for a second candidate which I did not want to do so I ended up sending in the mail paper ballot.
I agree STRS screwed up and it wasn't an innocent error, it was deliberate.
My word, Kathie.  What a mess!  I noticed the wording on my printed ballot but just voted for one candidate anyway.  But others here were influenced to vote for two.  What they said to me reflected that.  But what Dennis said about the online voting alone is enough to declare a new election.
Do everything necessary to resolve the 2013 Election problems with the ballot discrepancies and electronic voting issues.  To continue to ignore the concerns of STRS members regarding the current 2013 election is a "slap in the face" to each STRS member.   These problems could have been avoided by the use of an excellent editor.  Act now and clean up this mess!
[An excellent editor? Or should it be an honest board?]
I was appalled to read of the STRS Board's treatment of Dennis Leone at the last meeting.
ANY retiree deserves to be heard and have a response to his/her question(s). Certainly, a former Board member and candidate for a seat on the Board is entitled to have an oral response. SILENCE in this case is not golden.
Shame on all of you for your rudeness!
The Board has forgotten that retirees are the stakeholders, and it is their contributions funding the salaries and bonuses of the STRS administrators and employees.
If elected Board members choose not to respond, they should be voted out. However, with the "flawed" voting ballots in this election, that will be difficult to do.
The entire election should be scrapped and new ballots issued to all retirees. These ballots should be "proofread'' by individuals who are able to distinguish consistencies and inconsistencies relating to the number of candidates for whom you must vote. Total confusion! I'm sure there are a number of retired teachers who would happily volunteer to check the accuracy of new ballots before they go out.
The question that "begs" an answer: who was responsible for approving the ballots?
How interesting that no one will take responsibility for this debacle! The lack of response only reinforces that errors were made, and no one wants their head to be the one to roll.
I'll be waiting for my new ballot!   

It is very  hard to think that the changes for the 2013 election were accidental. The 2013 ballot and procedures very definitely benefit McGreevy and Stein --  who the STRS Board, the STRS staff, ORTA, and OEA/OFT all want back in  office.  All of them do NOT want anyone on the board to ask questions and  push for answers.  They want the board to be 11-0 on everything, which  they consider to be a good board.
Dennis Leone
How disappointing. Not to have our questions acknowledged is simply disrespectful, but more importantly, it demonstrates that this board is still not responsive to retired teachers.
What are the email addresses  for the STRS board, so I can email them about their stinky shit this election?? What would you expect when two clowns are in the same re-election ring!!??
Ms. Frost-Brooks:
As a  retired teacher with  40 years of service, I am disappointed at the OEA's recent procedures concerning the election of members for our board.  It seems that the OEA has become as polarized and small-minded as the legislature in protecting certain self-interests rather than the overall welfare of all the teachers in Ohio, both active and retired. Since when does an organization put its power behind one or two candidates?  Let the membership research its own choices and do not continue to put the money we have all earned (except for those getting astronomical bonuses at STRS) into ad campaigns.  It matters not whom I would prefer, it matters much that I am seeing the same kind of greed for power infect people who started out being about education.
In the interests of fairness, stop hiding behind technicalities that allow robocalls and let the process proceed without control from the top.  I know this letter will probably not make a difference, and that is the attitude the power plays are meant to foster, but I wonder why those in power are so afraid of Dr. Dennis Leone that they would omit his name from every public appeal they can?  Is it because he knows  more than the average member about how things operate?
I am afraid the OEA has gone the way of the ODE in forgetting the true purpose of its mission.  I can remember before the legislature decided to control the boards that education got more attention than power.
First of all, I am a STRS retiree, and secondly, if it weren’t for STRS retirees and active teachers, you and all the employees at STRS wouldn’t have a job. I don’t know you and you don’t know me; however, I have attended many STRS retirement meetings and have spoken at the meetings.
A few years ago there were some STRS board members and an executive director indicted and convicted, and I wonder who spearheaded getting to the bottom of inexcusable actions of such individuals? Some people don’t like whistle blowers and I wonder why? I ask myself why don’t certain people want Dennis Leone on the STRS board? I also ask myself, could there be something going on that shouldn’t be happening, and maybe he would happen to discover something? I also ask myself why certain individuals go out of their way to try to make something that is wrong, right?
I don’t care how you flower it up or use the English language, the wording on the ballot is WRONG, and it should be null and void.  Any person with a fifth grade education knows “Select two candidates” means to select two candidates. I assume you know what an imperative sentence is and this command meaning “(You) Select two candidates”, the subject is understood (“You”).
I really don’t care what your interpretation or rationalization is about the ballot language, or are you preoccupied or worried about something else? I’m just one of those “malcontents from southern Ohio'” as some former STRS board members referred to us, but we know one thing, RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WRONG IS WRONG. 
It is also difficult for me to understand how our politicians have given so much power to the STRS board who just a few years ago had some members indicted and convicted.  I ask myself why there weren’t any responses from the STRS board when Dennis Leone asked  questions directly to the board?  At least we “malcontents” do have manners and courtesy, although we may talk with a “southern drawl”.  I plan to attend the next STRS board meeting and possibly speaking.  Please try to keep from snickering.
I firmly believe it is time for STRS retirees to have a peaceful demonstration in Columbus as we have had in the past.
Bottom line? They KNOW they're wrong. They will NEVER admit it in a thousand years. They are playing games with us and will continue to do so till doomsday.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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