Thursday, February 10, 2005

Court Extends Blackwell's Deadline

Two judges have separately ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell did not have the authority to force Ohio's county election boards to choose between two optical scan voting machines.

Large metropolitan counties had protested the decree because of the ongoing expense of creating optical scan ballots. They prefer electronic voting machines. Ohio law requires electronic voting machines to keep a voter verified paper trail. Currently, not existing electronic voting machines meet the state requirements.

Voters use optical-scan machines by coloring in circles with ink or pencil, then feeding the card they've filled out into a machine that reads the votes.

But some elections officials say touch-screen machines are better because they help prevent voter error and don't require paper ballots, which will save counties thousands of dollars in printing and paper costs.

Five Ohio counties - Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lake and Portage - defied Blackwell's order and refused to select a company by the deadline.

Four of the five counties lean strongly Democratic.

If they end of using a different voting mechanism than the rest of the state, expect complaints of unfairness and comspiracy.