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Self-evaluation shows Franklin County needs more voting machines

Associated Press   10 February 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Franklin County elections officials should change the way voting machines are distributed and purchase more of them to satisfy state requirements, according to a report by the elections board.

The board plans to rely on voter-registration numbers and eliminate a method of allocating voting machines based partly on an educated guess of how politically active voters are in a given precinct, the report said.

"There are clearly things we goofed on that had a negative impact," Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said.

The report said the county needs to purchase 1,325 more voting machines, at a cost of nearly $8 million, to meet a new state standard of one machine for every 200 voters.

The self-evaluation of election procedures also said poor communication between elections workers kept dozens of voting machines from being used in two locations on Election Day.

Lawyers behind a failed challenge of Ohio's presidential election results cited long lines and reports of machine shortages in minority neighborhoods as evidence of fraud.

But accusations that voting machines were purposely withheld from those heavily Democratic areas are "untrue and baseless," the report says.

Bob Fitrakis, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuits that challenged Ohio's presidential election results, said Franklin County officials still haven't explained why, with a heavy turnout projected, they waited so long to send out extra machines.

Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell also plans to review how the election was conducted at the local level, spokesman Carlo LoParo said.

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