Who Really Won?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dog Bites Man In Ohio (Again)

Ohio still working on stealing Florida's reputation for election debacle supremacy:

Ohio's first election without punch card ballots was marred by a slew of problems with new voting machines, raising a crucial question: Can the state that decided the last presidential race get it together before November?

Election officials had trouble printing ballot receipts, finding lost votes and tabulating election results in Tuesday's primary. Some election workers were late or did not show up at all in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County, the state's largest. Others could not figure out how to turn on the machines.

"Ohio's quickly getting this reputation as most corrupt and maybe most incompetent," said Chris Link, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which fielded dozens of complaints from voters.

Tuesday's primary was the first in which all 88 counties used either touch-screen machines or devices that scan ballots marked by voters.

Glitches were reported across the state, and a few local races remained undecided Wednesday while counting continued. The number of outstanding votes was too small to affect races for governor, Congress and statewide offices.

Columbus attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who handles voting-rights cases, said many of the problems were expected. "You could see in the absence of adequate training, people could just screw up," he said.

Cuyahoga County was searching for memory cards holding votes from 74 polling locations. Spokeswoman Jane Platten said the cards might have been left in machines, but she would not discuss details, citing security concerns. The county had reported results from about 98 percent of precincts by Wednesday night.
Link, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the problems went far beyond minor snags that could be expected, including complaints that voters were sent away by poll workers who were perplexed by the machines. In those cases, voters should have been offered paper ballots.

"We're not conspiracy theorists unless gross incompetence is a conspiracy, and that's what we saw," she said. "The elected officials charged with ensuring that citizens get to vote are not doing their job."

Workers failed to open one polling place until 1:30 p.m. Robert Bennett, the state GOP chairman and head of the Cuyahoga Elections Board, said they might have been criminally negligent and referred the case to prosecutors.

John Daley of Cuyahoga Falls near Akron said poll workers suggested he leave after some voting machines malfunctioned. He asked for a paper ballot, then the optical-scan system began working.

"I said, 'No, I'm not leaving,'" Daley said. "I kind of got frustrated."

And the punchline-Ohio Republicans voted for the man responsible for the running of elections as their nominee for Governor.