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Ohio's Diebold Debacle: New machines call election results into question

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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November 24, 2005
Massive Election Day irregularities are emerging in reports from all over Ohio after the introduction of Diebold's electronic voting in nearly half of the Buckeye State 's counties. A recently released report by the non-partisan General Accountability Office warned of such problems with electronic voting machines.

E-voting machine disasters

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Prior to the 2005 election, electronic voting machines from Diebold and other Republican voting machine manufacturers were newly installed in 41 of Ohio 's 88 counties. The Dayton Daily News reported that in Montgomery County, for example, "Some machines began registering votes for the wrong item when voters touched the screen correctly. Those machines had lost their calibration during shipping or installation and had to be recalibrated. . . . "

Steve Harsman, the Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections (BOE), told the Daily News that the recalibration could be done on site, but poll workers had never performed the task before.

The city of Carlisle, Ohio announced on November 22 that it is contesting the results of the November 8 general election as a result of Montgomery County vote counting problems. Carlisle Mayor Jerry Ellender told the Middletown Journal that the count on the city 's continuing $3.8 million replacement fire levy is invalid "since they are not sure if Carlisle voters received the right ballots on the new electronic voting machines. "

Harsman, according to the Journal, said, "poll workers incorrectly encoded voter cards that are used to bring up the ballots on the electronic machines in precincts in Germantown and Carlisle. "

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At least 225 votes were registered for the fire levy in precincts with only 148 registered voters, according to the Journal. In addition, 187 voting machine memory cards were lost for most of election night in Montgomery County, according to the Dayton Daily News.

In Lucas County, election results appeared more than 13 hours after the close of polls. The Toledo Blade cited " 'frightened ' poll workers, " intimidated by the new "touch-screen voting machines. "

The Blade found that despite an $87,568 federal grant to the Lucas County Board of Elections for "voter education and poll worker training . . . " only $1,718.65 was spent from the grant.

The Blade also reported that ten days after the 2005 election, "Fourteen touch-screen voting machines have sat unattended in the central hallway at the University of Toledo Scott Park Campus. " The GAO report warned that touch-screen machines are easily hacked and should be kept secure at all times.

In Miami County, the Board of Elections fired the Deputy Director, Diane Miley, following a 20-minute closed-door session reviewing the November 8, 2005 general election.

The Free Press had reported that in the 2004 presidential election, Miami County was cited in the seminal Moss v. Bush election challenge case. The county was specifically cited for an early morning influx of 19,000 additional votes, mostly for Bush, after 100% of the vote had been reported.

The AP reported additional irregularities in the 2005 election in Ohio. In Wood County, election results were not posted until 6:23 a.m. after poll workers at four polling places accidentally selected the wrong option on voting machines preventing the machine memory cards from being automatically uploaded, according to the Board of Elections Deputy Director Debbie Hazard.

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In five counties Brown, Crawford, Jackson, Jefferson and Marion using Diebold machines, there were problems with the counting of absentee ballots as a result of "the width of the ballot, " the AP reported.

In Scioto County, the vote count was not finished until 4:30 a.m.. Board of Elections Director Steve Mowery informed the Portsmouth Daily Times that, as a result of machines undergoing insufficient testing and absentee problems, things went "poorly. "

Many counties used "roving employees " assigned to pick up memory cards from voting machines. In Lucas County, these "rovers " traveled "to multiple locations before delivering the cards to the election office at Governmental Center. " The polls closed at 7:30 p.m. but, "The final memory cards were delivered to the Board of Elections office just before midnight, " according to WTOL Channel 11 News, Toledo.

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