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Make sure poll machines are ready


The Issue:

The state Controlling Board wants to make sure security issues are cleared up before releasing $127 million for new voting machines.

Our Opinion:

It's better to wait a month or so to make sure the issues are resolved than to spend now and regret it.

We think waiting another month to make sure security issues are addressed with the state's new voting machines is the prudent choice.

The state Controlling Board decided to hold up the release of $127 million in federal funds for new electronic touch-pad voting systems to allow another month or so to be sure all security issues have been resolved.

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell maintains the security issues have been addressed and delaying puts Ohio in danger of running afoul of federal guidelines.

All 88 Ohio counties were to have new systems in place for the November presidential election, but Ohio was granted an extension. More than half of Ohio's counties will have the machines by Nov. 2 and the rest will have them after the election.

Blackwell had asked for the money even though lawmakers formed a committee to look into security questions. The committee met for the first time last week.

White told The Associated Press that he instructed state Sen. Bill Harris to ask the state Controlling Board to defer the request at its meeting this week. Harris, an Ashland Republican, is on the seven-member board that must approve releasing the money.

The federal money is available through the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed after the problem-plagued Florida vote in the 2000 election.

It requires states to implement systems that allow voters to see how they voted and recast the ballot if they wish. The systems also must prohibit people from casting votes twice and allow votes to be tallied on the precinct level.

It doesn't require that punch-vote systems be replaced, but the new standards mean most states are choosing electronic machines or scanners that read marks voters make on paper ballots.

Ohio recently received a waiver from the federal government's requirement the new machines be in place for this November's election. Blackwell said the new system will be fully in place sometime next year.

That's good enough for us. We want accurate election totals. Waiting a month or even a few extra months is well worth it to ensure that accuracy.

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