Voter turnout expected to be too high

COLUMBUS – Voting machines in Ohio’s most populous county are likely inadequate to handle the increased voter turnout expected for the 2008 presidential election, the state’s chief elections official said yesterday.

A test of electronic voting machines in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, will help determine the kinds of technical support and upgrades that are needed, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said during a legislative preview session for journalists organized by The Associated Press.

A computer server in the county seems incapable of handling high data volumes, Brunner said.

“When Ohio is in the spotlight, as we expect to be during the presidential election, voters need to be confident in the system,” said Brunner, a Democrat who took office in January.

During last November’s election, the Cuyahoga County elections board failed to secure keys to vote-counting rooms, did not comply with state laws governing bipartisan staffing, left computer users unaccountable by allowing a shared password and experienced an unexplained cable connection to vote-counting computers, according to the critique released last month by Cleveland State University’s Center for Election Integrity.

County commissioners hired the center to review the work of the election board after a botched primary last May in which one polling

place opened hours late, some vote-holding computer cards went missing and some poll workers were inadequately trained or absent.

Brunner said voting machines in all of Ohio’s 88 counties will be tested, and plans are being developed for more comprehensive training of the state’s 47,000 poll workers.

A team of attorneys who specialize in election law has been set up so county elections officials can get direct answers to their questions, Brunner said.