EAST CLEVELAND - Stephen Hodus voted for the first time Nov. 2, but he said it was not a good experience.
Hodus, 20, of Broadview Heights, went to his polling place twice - before and after work - before he could cast his ballot. When he did, he made a mistake in one race and asked for a new ballot, a voter's right.
But judges at the polling place in the Broadview Heights Community Center took his ballot and dropped it into the ballot box, Hodus said, denying him a chance to file a corrected ballot.
"I'm frustrated because I see the overriding possibility that this could have happened at other places," he said.
Hodus was among 20 people who testified Saturday afternoon about what they said were incidents of voter disenfranchisement. At least 10 others signed affidavits citing incidents.
About 60 people attended the four-hour hearing in support of voter protection at the Windermere United Methodist Church in East Cleveland.
"What we heard in Columbus and just in Cleveland is that something went terribly wrong in Ohio," said Gregory Moore, executive director of the NAACP National Voter Fund.
The testimony, he and others said, will be made public for review.
Among the complaints of those testifying, including Democratic challengers and East Cleveland City Councilman Gary Norton, were not enough voting booths at the polls, judges discouraging voters and confusion about provisional ballots.
Along with Hodus and Norton, others testifying included:
Daryl Davis, a poll worker who said people she knew who had voted for years came to the polls only to find their names were not in polling books.
Patricia Blochowiak, a Democratic challenger who said people who claimed to be from the Republican legal committee asked for her identification but would not provide theirs.
June Mandel, who told how her niece, Lisa Rosenthal, a registered Republican, found her name on the books at her polling place in Twinsburg, but her husband, Todd, a registered Democrat, could not find his name.
The hearing was sponsored by Ohio Vigilance, the Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE-Ohio); the Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Committee; the AFL-CIO Federation of Labor-Cleveland; Election Protection; the Tyrian Network; and Artists for Peace.
© Copyright 2004 The Plain Dealer.