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Glitches delay vote count for Seneca, Putnam
Results in 5th District held up

By JENNIFER FEEHAN, Toledo Blade, November 8, 2007

The outcome of the 5th Congressional District Republican primary remained in doubt long after most voters had gone to bed on election night as Seneca and Putnam counties struggled to get their votes counted.

Putnam County, which kept polls open until 9 p.m. because of equipment problems, finally reported its results about 6 a.m. yesterday for the race ultimately won by State Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green).

And it was 2 a.m. before workers at the Seneca County Board of Elections in Tiffin finished scanning ballots cast for the 5th District primary race.

Carla Tooman, the Putnam County Elections deputy director, said officials still are not sure what went wrong with the electronic voting machines programmed for the congressional primary.

Putnam County borrowed 140 machines from Franklin County after most of its own voting machines were damaged in the August flood that hit Ottawa.

"Some of them worked. Some of them didn't. We can't figure it out," she said. "It's the million-dollar question."

Ms. Tooman said all the machines were tested three times before they were sent out to the polling places and all were working fine.

The county did not have problems with the machines used for general election voting, but had to have voters cast paper ballots for the congressional primary.

In Seneca County, Elections Director Janet Leahy said the county's optical-scan voting system could only be programmed for one election - in this case the general election.

That meant those ballots were scanned by voters after they filled them out at each precinct, while the primary ballots had to be taken to the elections office after the polls closed to be fed into the scanner one by one and counted.

"The general election was not the problem," Ms. Leahy said. "It was just that two elections are going to take a little longer, especially when you don't have the equipment."

Ms. Leahy said the county could not afford to purchase additional scanners, which cost $5,000 each, for what was likely to be a one-time event.

The unusual, dual general-primary election was scheduled following the death of U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Tiffin) in September.

Seneca County's local general election results were tallied by about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Among those results, Tiffin City Councilman James Boroff was elected mayor to replace longtime Tiffin Mayor Bernard Hohman, who was not seeking a fourth term.

Seneca County voters approved two countywide tax levies: a 0.3-mill, five-year renewal for senior citizens services and a 0.5-mill, five-year renewal for the county's board of mental retardation and developmental disabilities, which runs the Seneca County Opportunity Center.

A new 0.8-mill, five-year levy to support the tri-county Mental Health and Recovery Services Board was narrowly defeated in Seneca County and failed in Sandusky County as well.

Although the levy was approved by voters in Wyandot County, Executive Director Nancy Cochran said the levy did not receive enough yes votes districtwide to pass.

A similar levy was defeated in November, 2006.

"We gained 5 percentage points and we are so close now," Ms. Cochran said yesterday.

"Now we have to decide if we want to continue to go as a district or separate out and go county-by-county."

General election results in Putnam County were available on election night, although the mayor's race in Columbus Grove remained in doubt yesterday because of an extraordinary number of write-in votes cast in the race.

Those have not yet been sorted out because of more pressing priorities, elections officials said.

Two candidates' names appeared on the ballot, while two others were seeking the mayor's job as write-in candidates, including former Mayor Michael Bogart, who is in jail serving a seven-month sentence stemming from a drunken-driving conviction.


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