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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Christian Right's Ohio Election Day Voter Guide: The Computer Ate It

[UPDATE: 11/05/07 -- The guide is now online and available here. One of the questions is about teaching evolution in Ohio's schools, and whether alternatives should be presented in classrooms.]

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A statewide voter-guide that was supposed to help Ohio's evangelicals and values voters pick their candidates for the Nov. 6 election has not appeared yet because of computer problems. The guide is the handiwork of Ohio Election Central which is an offshoot of Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati-area Christian right organization headed by Phil Burress. Officials are reportedly hoping to get the guide out by Election Day, but the delay has no doubt undercut its usefulness as a tool to influence voters.

The guide is supposed to advise Ohioans on "where the candidates stand on the key issues that affect you, your family and Ohio" and it is compiled from a questionnaire developed from concerns important to groups ranging from the American Family Association to the Eagle Forum of Ohio. According to the Web site, the quite has been stalled by glitches that have made it impossible to tie candidates to their Zip Codes.

"We are experiencing difficulty which is preventing you from viewing an accurate sample ballot."

Often, the values voters guides work in favor of Republicans. But if it doesn't appear -- or shows up at the last minute -- the delay seems to be a break that boosts the prospects of Democrats, especially in Cincinnati where all nine City Council seats are on the ballot. Also, it may help in Columbus. And, perhaps, in OH-05 its non-appearance could hurt State Sen. Steve Buehrer. He has the backing of some evangelicals and Burress in a tough GOP primary against State Rep. Bob Latta. Clearly, not having the guide ready on the Sunday before the election means churches could not distribute downloads. Nor could they mention during Sunday services that the web guide was out and could be checked online.

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