Another one bites the dust

Vote of No Confidence
Columbus Dispatch (OH) (12/15/07) Niquette, Mark

A nearly $2 million review of Ohio’s voting systems found “critical security failures” across the board, prompting Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to propose a sweeping replacement of electronic touch-screens and optical-scan systems with a system that uses a paper ballot scanned at a central site. Her proposal also involves the elimination of voting in neighborhood precincts in favor of large “vote centers” where voters from five to 10 precincts would cast their ballots, with voting beginning 15 days prior to an election.

The review determined that vote results could be compromised with “fairly simple techniques,” while county elections officials chosen to review the part of the study by a group of academic experts reported that the findings are “generally based on pure supposition and bias.” Brunner counters that the systems fail to meet minimum industry standards for computer security, and admits that making significant changes before Ohio’s March 4 primary in all but one county is unlikely. However, she wants the statewide revamping complete by the next presidential election, and Peg Rosenfeld with the League of Women Voters of Ohio agrees that the state must make an overhaul.

The voting-system vendors whose products are used in Ohio released statements insisting that their devices are reliable and accurate. Brunner’s proposal faces the scrutiny of a Republican-led legislature, while Ohio State University law professor Dan Tokaji argues that her plan will create more problems than it solves.