Ohio's Secretary of State Fights to Destroy Evidence of Vote Count

Updated on May 30, 2018
ralphlopez profile image

Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted

A group of citizen election integrity activists is concerned about the vote count of Tuesday's election. After speaking with the election officials of Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, and the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted, it has become clear that there is something these officials do not want the public to see in the upcoming primary on Tuesday.

The counties have introduced new voting equipment that utilizes digital ballot imaging. After each physical ballot is cast, the machines take a digital image of each voter's ballot and uses the images to tally the votes. Secretary Jon Husted and the Boards of Election of the aforementioned counties would like to delete all of the digital images created by the machines, and count the votes the old fashioned way.

This has prompted activists to sue both the secretary of state and the boards of election from both counties. They argue that the ballot pictures are meant to serve as an easy way to perform preliminary audits of vote counts without having to access the paper ballots. So, why would the secretary of state and election officials be fighting so hard to destroy them?

There are essentially three kinds of voting systems in use across the United States. The most common type uses paper ballots which are hand-marked by the voter, then fed into a machine which takes a picture of the ballot at the same time, and an "optical scanner" counts the votes. Different companies make this type of system, but the underlying technology is essentially the same. Mark the ballot by hand, feed it into the machine, it takes image, and the votes are counted. This is considered by many to be the best system overall by election integrity activists.

The next most common system, used by about 25% of precincts, is the inferior touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic device, or DRE, which leaves a "paper trail." These machines require the voter to select their choice by touching the screen. The machine then spits out a "receipt" that you can examine to make sure your choice was recorded correctly. However, these machines are much too easy to hack because the screen and the receipt could show the correct choices while the internal tabulation software could record anything a hacker wants.

Finally there are DREs with no paper trail, called "push and pray" machines by election activists. The states of New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana still use these.

The system used in Ohio, and that which Secretary John Husted and election officials are trying to manipulate, is considered the best for a number of reasons. One main reason is that there is a hardcopy of a paper ballot which is difficult to tamper with without it becoming obvious. Also, the digital picture of each ballot that is saved in each precinct machine's memory serves as a revolutionary new auditing tool which allows ordinary citizens to confirm the machine vote counts, since these images can be easily posted on the Internet or made available on a DVD. One manufacturer of this type of machine, Hart Intercivic, highlights this benefit in its marketing literature: "Auditability: Post election access to scanned ballots for complete transparency and auditability."

Page from literature for Hart Intercivic vote-counting machine, highlight indicates audit feature.
Page from literature for Hart Intercivic vote-counting machine, highlight indicates audit feature. | Source

So, we return to the question, what reason do the secretary and election officials have to delete digital ballot images? Perhaps by looking into the past we may find an answer.

Cuyahoga County was surrounded by controversy when George Bush mysteriously came from behind John Kerry in this key swing county and state to win reelection in 2004. The controversy was the subject of a lawsuit: King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell.

Other election departments across the country have also been mired in controversy. In Florida, the Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes was discovered to have destroyed the paper ballots in the 2016 Democratic primary between Bernie Sanders follower Tim Canova, and the former DNC Chairwoman, US Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The discovery came as Canova was suing for a hand recount of the paper ballots, after Wasserman-Schultz handily won reelection.

The non-profit website Verified Voting lists the type of voting system used in every US county. The types of optical scan vote-counting machines which generate digital images of the ballots include the ES&S DS200, the ES&S DS850, the Dominion ImageCast Precinct and ImageCast Central, the Hart Intercivic Verity Scan and Verity Central, and the Unisyn Voting OpenElect OVO, according to the website.

On Monday morning, May 7th, the day before the 2018 primaries in Ohio, a judge will decide whether or not election authorities can wipe out part of the audit trail. The better question, of course is: What is this even doing in a courtroom in the first place?

© 2018 Ralph Lopez

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)