Cuyahoga's electronic voting system falters even in low-key poll -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Wed Nov 07 2007 - 21:32:13 CST

Cuyahoga's electronic voting system falters even in low-key poll

Cuyahoga's electronic system falters even in low-key poll

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Joe Guillen

Plain Dealer Reporter

Late-night computer glitches had Cuyahoga County wobbling to the end of
Tuesday's election.

The vote was the kind of low-turnout, ballot-lite poll perfect to test
Cuyahoga's electronic system -- one that's guaranteed to be among the
most-watched during next year's presidential election.

But a 20-minute shutdown slowed counting around 9:30 p.m. Then a half-hour
crash around 10:40 p.m. stalled tabulations again. At that point, the board
changed its procedures and backed up its vote totals every 45 minutes.

By 11:30 p.m., about 43 percent of precincts were counted.

Cuyahoga County Elections Director Jane Platten said she didn't know why
earlier simulations of the machines hadn't detected the glitch, which was
the same for each shutdown. The simulations are no substitute for the real
thing, she said.

Even after the first shutdown, Platten said the county's performance was a
good sign for the 2008 elections. "If today was next year, I'd be very
happy," she said before the second crash. "Because the issues that were
presented to us today we were able to handle quickly, and they were
resolvable in an efficient manner."

Turnout was less than 15 percent of actual voters, as only a smattering of
candidates and issues were on most local ballots. While things started
smoothly at most polls, it was hard to judge how Cuyahoga managed the day.

About 20 percent of polling places hadn't sent their results downtown three
hours after polls closed because they were still completing a deliberate
protocol that included packing up electronic equipment and sending the
electronic cards that collected votes on to the board's Cleveland
headquarters.

All 583 polling locations opened on time at 6:30 a.m. However, poll workers
and tech nicians didn't show up at some locations, forcing voters to use
paper ballots while the touch- screen machines were set up.

Poll-worker problems occurred mostly in cities that hadn't had any elections
since last Novem ber, including Cleveland and Brooklyn, Platten said. She
pre dicted those cities would strug gle, while others with municipal
elections earlier this year would manage better.

Platten said Tuesday night she wasn't sure how many workers failed to show
or how many poll ing places had setup problems.

Tuesday's election was important to show the Board of Elections could pull
off an election without significant hang-ups. The county's first election
with electronic voting equipment in May 2006 was labeled a debacle after
results were delayed almost a week. The election last Novem ber had a more
positive outcome, but each election carries uncertainties.

There were other problems Tuesday. A handful of voters called The Plain
Dealer to say they never received absentee ballots they had applied for last
month. "I'm 84 years old, and I've never not been able to vote before
today," said Caroline Berkman of Beachwood, who hadn't received her absentee
ballot.

Voters in one Bay Village ward showed up at their expected poll ing place -
Lawrence School on Wallings Road - only to find school in session and no
note about where to cast their ballots, witnesses said.

Platten said she didn't have an immediate answer about specific cases.

There were surreal moments as well Tuesday. Two election workers were mugged
on their lunch hour as they left a down town Cleveland KFC; a power outage
in Shaker Heights had poll workers scrambling for flashlights (voting
machines stayed on via battery power); and a voter performed CPR on an eld
erly Parma voter who collapsed at a polling place.

Plain Dealer reporter Michael Scott contributed to this story.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: jguillen@plaind.com, 216-999-4675

C 2007 The Plain Dealer

C 2007 cleveland.com All Rights Reserved.

 

 --

 

Edmund R. Kennedy, PE

10777 Bendigo Cove

San Diego, CA 92126

 

 

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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:11 2007

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