Skip to comments.Mahoning takes steps to ensure integrity of Ohio vote
Posted on 10/03/2004 7:39:45 PM PDT by rface
YOUNGSTOWN Not wanting questions to be raised about how it runs elections, the Mahoning County Board of Elections is spending about $20,000 for security improvements to its office and voting machines.
Board Director Michael Sciortino and Deputy Director Thomas McCabe said there haven't been problems with compromised electronic voting machines in the county. But the improvements are needed to ensure the integrity of the voting process in the county, they said.
"There hasn't been a problem, but let's be honest, the boards of election in Ohio will be closely watched and scrutinized," Sciortino said. "Just because there hasn't been a problem isn't an excuse to do nothing."
Sciortino is concerned that a close presidential vote in Ohio, considered a key battleground state in the presidential race, could lead to dozens of attorneys and advisers from the Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards campaigns examining ballots, the election process, and recounts in numerous counties in the state after Election Day.
Among the improvements at the Mahoning election board include the construction of walls, doors and locks to isolate the electronic voting machines from the rest of the office.
By Monday, four cameras will be installed to digitally record activity around-the-clock in the voting machine storage area, the room where absentee ballots are kept, and in the main computer room, Sciortino said.
Also, security access cards to gain entrance to the machine storage area were given to Sciortino, McCabe and two other election employees. A handful of other election employees will receive the access cards on Election Day.
"If there is going to be a close election in Ohio, Mahoning County will be above board," Sciortino said. "We don't want unnecessary allegations made that we didn't do our best with security of the machines. Ohio is going to be scrutinized, and we want to be ahead of the curve."
Election officials in Columbiana, Trumbull, Mercer and Lawrence also expect increased scrutiny in their counties if there is a close presidential vote, but made no adjustments to the security of their election machines.
Officials at the Trumbull and Columbiana election boards say they are keeping their punch-card ballots under lock and key, and don't see the need to tighten their security.
In Pennsylvania, the directors of the Mercer and Lawrence counties bureaus of registration and elections, also say their voting machines are locked and secured. Like Mahoning, Mercer uses electronic voting. Lawrence County use paper ballots read by optical scanners.
Also, election officials in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys say registrations and requests for absentee ballots increased compared to previous years and the 2000 presidential election.
In Mahoning County, approximately 12,000 people were added to the voter registration list this year, and election officials have to go through another 1,000 or so to make sure they are legitimate, Sciortino said. A few thousand more are expected to be submitted, he said.
In all five counties, most of the new registrations are submitted by nonprofit political groups such as America Coming Together, MoveOn.org, and Rock the Vote.
In Mahoning, political groups submitted about two dozen to three dozen registration cards with incomplete information, cards from about 100 of people already registered to vote, and about 50 that appear to be fraudulent, Sciortino said.
"They just didn't look right," he said. "They had the wrong information, and when we contacted these people, they said they didn't sign registration cards."
The possibly fraudulent cards were turned over to county, state and federal officials for investigation, Sciortino said.
The deadline to register is Monday.
In Trumbull, election officials expect to add 8,000 newly registered voters; in Columbiana and Lawrence, it should be a few thousand each; and in Mercer, there are about 2,000 newly registered voters.
As far as the number of absentee voters, Mahoning officials already have more than 5,000, and expect the number to rise to 15,000 to 18,000. There were 12,319 absentee voters in the 2000 presidential election in Mahoning.
Mercer should have about 4,000 absentee voters, compared to about 2,500 in 2000. Lawrence County should have more than 2,000 absentee voters, compared to 1,940 in 2000.
Columbiana will exceed its 2000 number of 3,400 absentees, Gall said. The number of absentees in Trumbull in 2000 was about 10,000, and the county expects to have at least that amount this year, said Norma Williams, its elections director.
Election officials in the five counties agree that there are those who cast absentee votes that don't qualify for an absentee exemption. The election officials say they don't have the time or staff to investigate whether people voting absentee are doing so in violation of state law.
I'm more concerned about voter fraud than I am about john kerry's ability to mount a credible campaign.
Good post, and timely. I agree with flashbunny, also.
"In Mahoning, political groups submitted about two dozen to three dozen registration cards with incomplete information, cards from about 100 of people already registered to vote, and about 50 that appear to be fraudulent, Sciortino said."
From the people who perfected the art of the car bomb.
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