July 31, 2014

Elyria
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Elections board pressured to change

CLEVELAND — The elections board in Ohio’s most populated county, under pressure to abandon its method of electronic voting, decided Monday it needed more time to study the issue.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a report Friday that concluded Ohio’s electronic voting systems have critical security flaws that make them vulnerable to tampering. She recommended that Cuyahoga County, along with the rest of the state, move away from touch-screens to optical-scan systems, which may be more secure.

“She’s told us what her preference is, but she recognizes it’s our decision,” said Jeff Hastings, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board.

Brunner recommended that Cuyahoga County, which has been plagued with electronic voting problems, switch to optical-scan machines in time for the state’s March 4 presidential primary.

The elections board on Monday listened to the opinions of public officials, voting machine vendors and citizens during a daylong meeting. They adjourned until Thursday afternoon, when board member Davis Chappell, who was absent Monday, was expected to return.

Allan Benek, a vice president with Omaha, Neb.-based voting machines vendor Election Systems & Software, told Cuyahoga’s elections board that ES&S is ready to immediately help set up an optical-scan system in the county.

But board members responded that the reliability of ES&S voting machines was also questioned in Brunner’s report.

Chappell said in a prepared statement that the board must act immediately in accordance with Brunner’s recommendations.

“Staying with our current vendor seems an option fraught with peril,” Chappell said in the statement