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Butler County missed 105 votes   (OH)

GREGORY KORTE    Cincinnatti Enquirer     08 April 2008

A recently discovered computer glitch caused at least 105 votes in West Chester to go missing after the March 4 primary election, Butler County election officials said.

Two computer cards containing votes from touch-screen voting machines were not uploaded on election night – even though the computer reported that all cards had been read. Those votes have since been counted and were included in final, official results approved last week.

Officials say they don’t yet know whether the same glitch may have affected results from previous elections in Butler County or elsewhere. Forty-four of Ohio’s 88 counties – including the urban counties of Lucas (Toledo), Montgomery (Dayton) and Stark (Canton) also use the same software – from Premier Election Solutions – as their primary vote-counting system.

And Butler County Elections Director Betty L. McGary said she’s concerned because normal auditing procedures might not have discovered the error – at least not right away.

“Quite frankly, if it’s off by five votes or 105 votes, I want to know what’s causing it. Especially if it’s a close election,” McGary said, “If we cannot produce accurate and reliable numbers, then it throws the entire process in question, and that’s not something we want to have happen.”

Butler County has reported the error to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and to Premier. The Secretary of State’s office is watching the investigation, said spokesman Jeff Ortega. It’s unknown how widespread the problem could be.

Premier did not return phone calls today seeking comment.

The software error evidently happened when election computers tried to read two electronic voting cards simultaneously. That resulted in a database “sharing violation.”

The missing votes came from precincts that voted at Adena Elementary School and Lakota Freshman School. The glitch isn’t known to affect the outcome of any race.

None of the known missing votes came from the 53rd Ohio House district, where an automatic recount this afternoon was to decide the Republican primary between two front-runners, Timothy Derickson and Paul Nenni. Derickson had a 54-vote lead going into the recount.

Last year, a report by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner found a litany of problems with electronic voting systems, including security holes and computer performance issues. She later voted to scrap the Premier voting system in Cuyahoga, Ohio’s largest county.

Premier has challenged those findings, saying Brunner’s report failed to take into account the role elections officials play in preventing problems.

Premier, based in Allen, Texas, is owned by Diebold Inc. but has distanced itself from its parent company in order to deflect criticism about the involvement of Diebold executives in Republican politics.


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