“We don’t want to be another Florida.” Those words from Delaware County Elections Director Karla Herron are being echoed across Ohio — indeed, throughout much of the country — as elections officials grow increasingly worried about the growing necessity to replace aging voting equipment. Virtually no one disagrees with the need. Problem is, virtually no one wants to pay for a new voting setup. The statewide tab could top $200 million, judging by central Ohio cost estimates. Tim Ward has a ready retort for such reluctance: “You think having a good election is expensive? Try having a bad one.” The president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and Madison County elections director said, “We don’t want to be sitting there saying I told you so.”
Most of Ohio’s voting equipment dates to 2005 or 2006, after the federal government paid for massive purchases nationwide following the 2000 debacle in Florida, where the outcome of a presidential election turned on hanging punch-card ballot chads and other aspects of an outdated voting system. The Help America Vote Act provided about $115 million for new equipment in Ohio.
While the touch-screens and optical scanners have generally worked well in the ensuing decade-plus, Ohio elections officials say, continuing to use outdated devices raises the chances of a serious error in counting votes. “Their life expectancy was 10 years,” said Melanie Willeford, deputy elections director in Madison County.
Jane Hanley, Fairfield County elections director, said sometimes the electronic touch-screens have to be re-calibrated on Election Day because votes are not being recorded for the right person. “Nobody’s carrying the cellphone they had in 2005,” she said. “Even your car has a newer computer in it than our voting machines.”
Full Article: Could the 2000 election debacle in Florida happen in Ohio?.