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Inquiry sought on voting errors
Lynn Hulsey Dayton Daily News 09 March 2007

DAYTON A legal rights advocacy group wants Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to investigate complaints from about 20 voters that Montgomery County's touch screen electronic voting machines changed their votes during the November election.

The complaints came from people who noticed their votes did not register properly, but it appears all but one caught the errors before finalizing their vote on the Diebold machines. One woman said a poll worker improperly cast the incorrect ballot for her.

Ellis Jacobs, senior attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., forwarded the information to Brunner's office. Jacobs said he is not alleging the vote switches were done intentionally, or that it benefited one candidate over another or swayed a race. But he said it is a concern because it is not known how many people cast ballots without realizing the machine did not properly record their vote.

"It's clear that there's something going on here, some type of problem with the machines," he said. Steve Harsman, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said he's already looking into the problem and Brunner said she's willing to lend a hand if necessary.

Known as "vote-flipping," the complaints about switched votes were registered with volunteer attorneys who responded to voter concerns on election day and also by the board of elections. Greene County fielded about six legitimate complaints and found the vote-flipping was caused either by dirty screens or improper calibration of machines, said Llyn McCoy, deputy director of the board of elections.

Jacobs filed four affidavits with Brunner from voters in Montgomery County explaining their problems.

"The machine worked fine until I got to the U.S. Senate race," wrote Eric Zwirner of Dayton. "I tried to vote for Sherrod Brown, but the machine ed Mike DeWine. I de-ed DeWine and tried again, with the same outcome."

A poll worker shut down the machine and Zwirner voted on another one.

Machine problems even plagued a member of the board of elections, Jim Nathanson, who said the machine he used would not record his vote for Montgomery County Commission candidate Chuck Curran. Ultimately he was able to successfully cast his vote and he said the problem stemmed from improper calibration of the touch-screen.

Harsman said he believes most of the problems can be explained by voters unfamiliarity with the new machines, rather than equipment failure.

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