Ohio warns voting lawsuit could create confusion

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio would experience election delays and confusion if a judge upholds a complaint alleging that voting equipment in some counties raises the possibility of ballots being altered after they are cast, state attorneys warned Tuesday.

The state is asking a federal judge to reject claims raised in a lawsuit a day earlier that software installed by the state could allow vote manipulation by non-election board officials.

The lawsuit against Ohio's elections chief and Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems and Software alleges asks the judge to order Ohio not to use ES&S hardware or software Tuesday and to break state contracts with ES&S for equipment to be used this year.

State attorneys said representing Secretary of State Jon Husted in a court filing Tuesday morning that granting this request would thwart the election's smooth operation.

Not using the software would require election boards "to develop, communicate, and implement a new policy and procedures for collecting and reporting the votes in the middle of an election," state attorneys said.

"Such a last minute ruling would unnecessarily thwart the smooth operation of the election and result in inevitable delay and confusion for election officials and the public," assistant Ohio attorney general Richard Coglianese said in a court filing.

A hearing was under way Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost in Columbus.

A "back door" in ES&S software and hardware creates "an imminent risk" that people not supervised by election boards could "alter the recording and tabulation of votes cast by Ohio voters in the General Election," according to the lawsuit, filed Monday on behalf of Bob Fitrakis, a longtime Ohio elections activist.

A Husted spokesman on Monday called the lawsuit "ridiculous," saying the software allows faster transmission of results from county election boards to the reporting system after polls close. Spokesman Matt McClellan said it has nothing to do with voting machines, only the results that are tabulated afterward.

The equipment is in Ohio's 25 most populous counties, said Columbus attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who filed the lawsuit.

___

Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.