"Ohio Pulls Plug on Electronic Voting," Cleveland Plain Dealer (01/13/05); Smyth, Julie Carr; Naymik, Mark.
Touch-screen electronic voting machines long criticized for inadequate security and reliability have been rejected by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in favor of a statewide deployment of optical-scan machines that process manually filled-out paper ballots tallied up by a precinct-based computerized counter. The systems not only comply with Ohio's requirement to supply a paper trail, but they offer greater flexibility than electronic machines at less cost, says representative Carlo LoParo. He reckons that equipping touch-screen systems with paper trails could have entailed a 20% increase in spending on the machines. Blackwell's directive has met with the approval of Ohio's County Commissioners Association, whose executive director, Larry Long, calls it "the only way Ohio can comply with federal law without counties being required to pay for part of the cost for installing new voting devices." On the other hand, some Ohio elections officials are unhappy with Blackwell's decision. Lake County elections director Jan Claire says the mandate will mean scrapping a $3 million touch-screen deployment that has been operating since 1999, while giving taxpayers the added burden of paying for the printing and processing of paper ballots. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County elections board director Michael Vu says the board had already opted to phase out the county's punch-card system in favor of an electronic system, and argues that a decision such as Blackwell's should be studied in depth by election officials statewide before going forward.
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