Friday, February 1, 2008

Ohio’s 2008 Voting Mess

I’m ashamed to say that I live in Ohio. And I’m very worried that there will be big problems in the upcoming March primary.

The problem? In December, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (a Democrat), told Cuyahoga county (the county in which Cleveland is located) to drop its touch-screen voting machines. Her decision followed a study that found problems in all of Ohio's voting equipment. She also wants the entire state to stop using touch-screen machines by November, and is looking for state and federal money to help pay for the changes, including reimbursement for Cuyahoga County's current change.

And she is changing everyone back to PAPER BALLOTS, which will be tabulated using optical scan. I live in neighboring Lake County, and in the 30+ years I have lived here, I have never used a paper ballot. This change seems so backwards to me that I am still in disbelief that they are going ahead with it.

What also concerns me is that places like Cuyahoga County just spent tons of money ($21 million in Cuyahoga’s case) to convert to the touch-screens. And I am also concerned that it doesn’t appear that the paper ballot/ optical scan system is any more secure.

Mind you, Cuyahoga County has been a voter’s nightmare for a long time. The last election using the touch-screens was a near disaster, for many reasons, many of them people-related. The last presidential election, before touch-screens, was even more problematic. But, my opinion is that voter confidence was pretty high with the new touch-screen systems, and I believe that the board of elections would have worked out the security issues – if there really were any – before the primary, if given the chance.

Instead, I’m now worried that the Ohio primary vote and presidential election will be filled with problems. And I want my vote to count. I’m also worried that the State of Ohio is spending money, both state and county money, to fix a problem that may or may not exist.

It’s no wonder that people lack confidence in their elected officials. And it’s also no wonder that Ohio has a hard time keeping jobs – and residents – here. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I can tell you that if there are any major problems with the primary, Ohioans will not be very tolerant.

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