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Election officials probe complaints about touch screens
Associated Press    09 March 2007

DAYTON, Ohio - The county board of elections is investigating complaints from 20 voters who say their votes were not registered properly on touch-screen electronic voting machines during the November election, officials said Friday.

Elections officials are trying to duplicate what happened on the machines to determine whether the machines, made by Diebold Inc., were not calibrated properly or there was another problem, said Steve Harsman, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Diebold said the problem was not with the machines.

Harsman said in virtually each of the 20 instances, the voters noticed that their votes were not recorded properly and went back and corrected them before casting their ballots.

"I'm not overly concerned at this stage," Harsman said. "I still have full confidence in the system."

Harsman said if a touch-screen machine is not calibrated properly, voters touching the box next to one candidate might have their vote read as for the candidate above or below. However, the voters can review their votes - both on a summary screen and on a printout - to make sure they are correct before casting the ballot, he said.

The Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., a local legal-rights advocacy group, has asked Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to help investigate.

Ellis Jacobs, senior attorney for the group, said he is not alleging the vote switches were done intentionally or benefited one candidate over another. 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 votes.

Diebold spokesman Mark Radke said there is nothing wrong with the machines, but they may have been miscalibrated by elections officials before the election. He said Diebold is working with elections officials to try to determine what happened.

Brunner spokesman Patrick Gallaway said Brunner has confidence in Harsman to investigate what happened, but has offered her office's assistance. Gallaway said the voter complaints will be reviewed by a task force created by Brunner that will be examining and testing electronic voting machines.

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