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Report: Ohio voting machines have 'critical flaws,' could undermine ’08 election
Adam Doster
Published: Saturday December 15, 2007

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One of the most important swing states in America still can’t safeguard the vote. So says a new report, commissioned by Ohio’s top elections official, that found all five voting systems used in the Buckeye State to have “critical flaws” that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election.

“It was worse than I anticipated,” Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said of the investigation. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

The $1.9 million federally financed study, conducted by corporate and academic teams in parallel assessments and released Friday, found that voting machines and central servers made by Elections Systems and Software; Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold; and Hart InterCivic; were easily corrupted.

According to the New York Times, “at polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.”

Ken Fields, a spokesman for Election Systems and Software, said his company vehemently opposed some of the report’s conclusions. “We can also tell you that our 35 years in the field of elections has demonstrated that Election Systems and Software voting technology is accurate, reliable and secure,” he said.

Brunner -- a Democrat who succeeded controversial Republican and Bush-backer J. Kenneth Blackwell -- ordered the study as part of a promise to revamp voting after the state made headlines for hours-long lines in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, also was home to a scandal that led to the convictions of two elections workers on charges of rigging recounts.

The Times reports that Brunner “proposed replacing all of the state’s voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties.” She also wants all counties to employ “optical scan machines” that electronically record paper ballots that voters fill in by hand.

In addition to switching machines, Ms. Brunner recommended purging polling stations that are used for fewer than five precincts and introducing an early voting period 15 days before Election Day.

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