Last updated: August 24. 2013 6:57PM - 30 Views

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The Lima NewsThe political left tried hard to convince people that the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio was a repeat of four years earlier in Florida. Republican Ken Blackwell was Ohio’s secretary of state, so Democrats and their allies did what they do when they lose: They accused Republicans of cheating.Funny, then, that once again the American Civil Liberties Union is warning that changes the Secretary of State’s Office wants made in how Ohioans vote could disenfranchise voters. It’s funny because Democrat Jennifer Brunner is now secretary of state, the overseer of elections in Ohio.Brunner last week called for drastically changing the way Ohioans vote — in time for next November’s presidential election. Ohioans can thank a continually dysfunctional Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for the embarrassment Brunner proposes to implement statewide. To be fair, Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, a Kettering Republican, joined Brunner at the release of the report that prompted all this. So, while it’s a bad idea, at least it’s a bipartisan bad idea.In a $1.9 million review, corporate and academic scientists identified a number of ways votes cast on touch-screen technology are vulnerable to manipulation, The Associated Press reported. Such machines have been purchased across the U.S. as part of a $3 billion conversion laid out in the federal Help America Vote Act. Recommendations in the report include:• Requiring optical scan ballots statewide.• Moving to central counting of ballots.• Eliminating all electronic machines and any optical scan machines that count ballots at the precincts.• Establishing voting centers for early voting, starting 15 days ahead of the election.• Setting up pilot voting centers for the 2008 primary.• Requiring that all August special elections be voted  on by mail.• Requiring counties using electronic machines for the 2008 primary to offer alternative paper ballots.Brunner and Husted want Congress to consider giving Ohio money to pay for replacing machines and tightening security before the 2008 presidential election. It’s good the two acknowledge a tremendous cost would be involved. They next should acknowledge Ohio wouldn’t get much return on that cost.Dan Tokaji, associate director of the Ohio State University law school’s Election Law @ Moritz project, told AP that Brunner’s recommendations could be disastrous. Counting optical scan ballots at central locations, rather than at individual precincts, means voters would lose an electronic reminder telling them they’ve made a ballot error, he said. “Following that recommendation would be a huge mistake, and one that could possibly change the outcome of the election,” Tokaji said. “The social science has consistently shown that centrally counted votes are prone to inaccuracies.” Also, that Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot for any reason reduces the need for the “voting centers” that Brunner wants open 12 hours a day for those 15 days ahead of the election. What county board of elections could realistically afford these hours anyway?But, practical reasons aside, Brunner and Husted are proposing a “fix” that even the ACLU of Ohio doesn’t believe is the right move. Tokaji, working as a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Ohio, testified Monday at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections that, “Ohio has very real concerns with the upcoming 2008 elections, but changing technologies to a method that has been proven to disenfranchise voters is not an adequate solution. Elections officials should focus on the human element, including training and procedures for those at the polls, in order to best impact elections.”Put a little more bluntly: If Cuyahoga County still has voting problems, fix them rather than forcing costly, unnecessary and possibly harmful changes on the rest of the state.

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