Failure is an option, just not the desired one, for the Clintonville Area Commission election committee.

Failure is an option, just not the desired one, for the Clintonville Area Commission election committee.

After all, there is plenty of precedent, in the opinion of chairwoman Mary Rodgers.

The first meeting of the new election committee, whose makeup was approved by the area commission in October, will take place on Monday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Whetstone Recreation Center. Its purpose will be to "wrangle through," according to Rodgers, the various thorny issues that have arisen in trying to make voting as accessible to Clintonville residents as possible without compromising the integrity of the elections.

It might be, the chairwoman conceded, that there are no easy answers to these difficult questions.

"If we can't come up with something it's not like there are a whole bunch of people before us who came up with an idea," Rodgers said.

Still, the District 3 resident and the others on the panel Justin Goodwin from District 7, Terry Sharkey from District 1, Nancy Stewart from District 9 and Retta Simones from District 6 will be giving it a try.

The committee members would prefer not to be alone in trying to address the issues that have arisen over absentee and shut-in voting, Rodgers said.

"We are inviting visitors because it is such a sensitive issue," she said. "If you came to the meeting we would be listening to your public input. Ultimately the committee will decide if we do take a recommendation to the CAC.

"If someone is passionate about this issue, this would be the time to chime in. I don't think we're going to belabor this issue for months."

The "issue" is actually issues that CAC members have been trying to resolve for much of the past year and through different election committee memberships. A proposal back in March to require the homebound to get a doctor's note in order to have an election committee member bring a ballot to them brought forth accusations of disenfranchising the elderly.

More recently, the question has arisen over whether photocopies of driver's licenses, made by Columbus Public Library Whetstone Branch personnel for people seeking to vote absentee, were public records or not. Some of those who cast their votes this way fear a public records request could disclose personal information, making them potentially vulnerable to identity theft.

"I guess we want to hear from people about what they think is fair," Rodgers said.

She added that anyone who is not able to attend the Nov. 8 meeting but wants to share their views can send an e-mail to mrodger5@ columbus.rr.com.

"I feel if you feel passionate about local politics, you need to be able to vote, and if you can't leave your home there needs to be some kind of path to make that happen," Rodgers said. "I think that's doable, but it's a resource issue more than anything else."

Mailing ballots to shut-ins might be too costly, while having election committee members visit all who want to cast their votes that would stretch manpower. The committee is limited to only five members by the CAC bylaws.

"I think we have to start with trust," Rodgers said. "After you get back trust, it's procedure."

As for absentee voting, the election panel chairwoman said that her idea would be to have election committee members, not library personnel, be available on perhaps five specific dates in order to vet the residency of those who won't be around to vote on election day.

"I think we will be making a recommendation on both of those, but I want to hear what people come up with," Rodgers said.

Whatever election committee members come up with, or don't, any absentee and shut-in voting would still be above and beyond what's done by any of the city's other area commissions, she said. None of the others have pre-voting of any kind, she said.

"We're trying to be special Clintonville," Rodgers said.