Sidebar 1, Paper ballots: cure or catastrophe?
One thing the CCBOE won’t do before the March primary is comparative shopping among voting system vendors for the best optical scanners to meet Cuyahoga County’s needs. Partly that’s because there’s no time, and partly it’s because ES&S scanners are the only ones Brunner has approved for use in Ohio.
Many question Brunner’s endorsement of ES&S’s equipment. County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones told The Plain Dealer that, in his opinion, “all the options are remote n none of them desirable. It’s a difference between the bad, the ugly and the ugliest.”
In fact, just as the CCBOE was contracting to lease optical scanners from ES&S for the March primary, the city of San Francisco was negotiating a $3.5 million settlement from the company in response to an election the city attorney termed “an absolute travesty.” The city filed suit against ES&S on Nov. 7, 2007, one day after a city election in which the final results were delayed for weeks due to concerns about the reliability and accuracy of the machines.
Last month, Colorado’s secretary of state released the findings from a court-ordered retesting of electronic voting equipment. Both ES&S optical scan devices -- the M100 and M650, which Cuyahoga County will use -- failed the test because programming errors prevented the machines from completing the testing threshold of 10,000 ballots. The voter turnout for Cuyahoga County’s March primary is expected to be 300,000.
In other previous elections, ES&S scanners performed badly: memory cards crashed and overvotes went through undetected, among other things.
According to Candice Hoke at the Center for Election Integrity, none of the available voting systems are real winners. But significant improvements are in the works.
Hoke hopes Cuyahoga County can wait for the new technology, but she’s concerned that if the CCBOE has to spend a lot of its resources now to meet Brunner’s demands, “the funds won’t be there” when the new technology becomes available.
•Main story: Paper ballots: cure or catastrophe?
•Sidebar 2: County voting woes, by the numbers (02/08/08)
•Previously: Paper ballots before March: Cure or cause for more grief? (01/26/08)