Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Voting machines eyed by Cuyahoga County are lousy, expensive, and probably mean to old people

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 2:14 PM

diebold%20voters.jpg
"Did you hear that? My machine just called me 'liberal swine!'"
As Cuyahoga County election officials muddle through the now-familiar ritual of picking new voting machines for the November election -- we hear it's a big one -- there’s a creepy feeling of déjà vu to the proceedings. Let’s go to the instant-replay booth: First, we had the Diebold touch-screen machines, which were so bad that one upstanding citizen took it upon himself to beat one up. Then, in March, we switched to the old-fashioned optical scanners, which were fine, except they didn’t allow ballots to be scanned at the actual polling place. Now the state is forcing the county to buy new machines that will read ballots on site. ... This means it’s time, once again, to pick a supply company. And this being Cuyahoga County, we have a choice between machines that are outdated, cost way more and have to be rented, and machines that cost less and may actually last us awhile. Predictably, elections director Jane Platten favors the more expensive option. That would be the machines provided by Election Systems & Software — the same company that supplied the scanners in the March primary. It’s the nation’s largest manufacturer of voting machines and, according to the St. Petersburg Times, it’s had lots of problems. As the paper reported last year: “Indiana launched an inquiry into poor service, settling when the company agreed to pay $750,000. West Virginia filed a formal complaint against the company with federal officials. Arkansas put together a panel to investigate.” Meanwhile, Summit County has had serious headaches using ES&S in the last couple of years, complaining that some absentee ballots arrived late and filled with typos. So, to recap: their service sucks, they're under investigation, their ballots come late, they can't spell, and they cost $13 million. And so naturally, we, the people of Cuyahoga County, say to you, the executives at ES&S ... Do you take American Express?– Lisa Rab

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