In America’s quintessential swing state, aging voting machines and partisan battles are casting doubt over the fairness of the 2016 election. Immediately after the 2004 election, when tens of thousands of Ohioans waited hours to vote, the state enacted a series of reforms that began to address the worst of that year’s nightmares. But now much of that progress is in danger of being undone. The Buckeye State is far from alone. Politicians and advocates are waging similar battles across the country, but the stakes may be highest here, in perhaps the most important of swing states on the national electoral map. With voting laws in flux and funding a for better voting technology a constant struggle nationwide, two central questions remain just 14 months before Election Day: who will be able to vote, and will all their votes be counted accurately? In 2005, Ohio passed a sweeping bill that expanded early and absentee voting, and a series of legal settlements in the following years helped put in place some of the nation’s best electoral practices. But over the past few years, Republicans have been chipping away at many of those changes. GOP leaders say they’re simply trying to guarantee uniformity and prevent voter fraud, but voting rights advocacy groups say the recent changes threaten to bring back problems from the past, and may be driven by an effort to suppress voter turnout.
Meanwhile, Ohio leaders are largely ignoring what a bipartisan federal panel called an “impending crisis:” voting equipment that’s at least a decade old and in need of replacement. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sounded the alarm two years ago in testimony before President Obama’s bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration. “The next time we go to the polls to elect a president, these machines will be 12 years old,” he said. “That’s a lifetime when it comes to technology.”
Yet his office has failed to forward any plan to replace the equipment, leaving cash-strapped counties to devise their own solutions. In the rolling farmland of Ohio’s Amish Country, for example, the Holmes County Board of Elections is strategically pinching pennies—holding off purchases of printers and other items—in hopes the county can scrounge together a few hundred thousand dollars to replace its aging voting equipment. And Holmes is actually one of the few counties that have any plan.
Full Article: Is Ohio the Next Home Of Hanging Chads?.