State Board Blocks Brunner's Plan to Test Ohio Voting Machines

Why doesn't the GOP want Ohio's voting machines tested?

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman Sept. 11, 2007

Ohio Republicans have blocked a proposal to test electronic voting machines prior to the 2008 presidential primary

By a 4-3 vote, Republicans on Ohio's State Controlling Board blocked Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's proposed $1.8 million unbid contract for voting machine testing. Brunner had already set aside the $1.8 million for the test. Her specific request to the Controlling Board was a waiver for competitive bidding. Her office had hoped to complete all testing by November 30, 2007.

A former judge, Brunner is successor to the infamous J. Kenneth Blackwell, who helped engineer the theft of Ohio's electoral votes for George W. Bush in 2004. Brunner won election as a reform candidate, vowing to guarantee the public access to the polls---and an accurate vote count---in 2008.

In California, Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen recently completed an extensive testing of that state's electronic voting machines. She decertified many of them and is on course to rework how America's biggest state casts and counts its ballots.

Brunner has not been quite so aggressive. When it was recently revealed that 56 of 88 Ohio counties illegally destroyed protected materials from the 2004 election, she showed little reaction. She has also stated publicly doubts that the irregularities that defined the Ohio vote that year could have affected the outcome or that the illegal destruction of more than 2000 ballots could have been intentional.

But in attempting to carry out her promise to test Ohio's electronic voting machines, Brunner has followed through on public demands that the ability of Ohio's electronic machines to deliver a fair and reliable vote count be proven. Tests and studies conducted by the federal Government Accountability Office, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins, the Brennan Center, the Carter-Baker Election Commission, John Conyer's House Judiciary Committee and others have all shown clearly that electronic voting machines are unreliable and easily rigged.

The New York Times has now joined that consensus, calling for an outright federal ban. "Electronic voting has been an abysmal failure," the Times said. "Computer experts have done study after study showing that electronic voting machines, which are often shoddily made, can easily be hacked. With little effort, vote totals can be changed and elections stolen."

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Brunner's Plan to Retest Voting Machines has Skeptics

The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wants to spend more than $1.8 million to retest the state's voting machines, but some members of the Ohio Controlling Board aren't convinced it's necessary.

"I don't understand why we're doing it," said Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, a member of the board, which is scheduled to consider Brunner's request Monday afternoon.

"I have real concerns about that particular request," said Sen. Steve Stivers, a Columbus Republican.

Brunner wants all of the electronic touch-screen and optical-scan systems used in Ohio and the procedures for handling them thoroughly examined to allay concerns about their security and accuracy.

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