Change in Voting Technology Violates Ohio Law
CLEVELAND–The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio urged election officials in Cuyahoga County today to reassess their decision to abandon current technology in favor of Central Count Optical Scan (CCOS) voting machines. In addition to previous concerns over violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the move to CCOS technology directly violates Ohio law that prohibits the use of voting machines that do not preclude an elector from overvoting, or casting more votes than the elector is eligible to cast.
At the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections’ Dec. 27, 2007 meeting, ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis offered testimony pointing out that the use of CCOS technology does not alert voters to possible mistakes in their ballots and will cause a greater number of overvotes and undervotes, causing many ballots to be left uncounted.
Davis said, “It is vital that voters receive notice of any problems with their ballots so they are able to make changes, if necessary. Reverting back to non-notice technology is a step backward for Ohio, jeopardizes the ballots of countless voters and is a direct violation of state law.”
Ohio adopted voting technology that provided notice to voters following the ACLU of Ohio’s successful lawsuit, Stewart v. Blackwell. The case challenged punch card voting and CCOS technology that caused votes, particularly in African American communities, to be uncounted because of overvotes and undervotes.
Critics of the move to CCOS technology have also pointed to the short timeframe election officials have to switch voting systems prior to the March presidential primary.
Davis concluded, “Secretary of State Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections must immediately reverse their decision to abandon current voting technology in favor of a system that has been proven unreliable and will cause many voters to be unfairly disenfranchised. As public servants, they must abide by Ohio law and utilize voting technology that provides voters with notice if their ballot is completed improperly.”