Q&A: E-voting security results 'awful,' says Ohio secretary of state

How bad? 'I thought I was going to throw up,' Jennifer Brunner recalls

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But we do, in places like, for example, New Hampshire. Twenty percent of the precincts up there count by hand. If we're talking about [counting] at the precincts, there's not all that many ballots per precinct. It could be counted in an hour or two.

[Maybe], if you think about one race. But if you are talking about multiple races, and in Ohio we have four ballots -- we have presidential, partisan, the nonpartisan, and the issues ballot....

Our boards of elections have a directive on how to hand count the ballots if they have a need to, but it is a longer process than one would think. And with our poll workers working 13, 14 hours, we'd have to have extra people to come in as counters....

Yes, bring another shift in. Well, you say it's a longer process. Do we actually know that, or do we think that it is? We can say, "Forget this hand-counting stuff; it'll never work." Or say, "You know what? All these problems we're having, maybe we ought to at least explore, see if there is another way." Because I don't see this nightmare ending, frankly, with these machines.

[Hand counting] may be worth it to try as a pilot [program]. I'm not so sure I'd want to experiment during the presidential elections.

I understand that. But literally, four or five precincts, not counties.

With the diversity that we have in Ohio, you may have a board of elections that would be willing to try it, because you have a wide variety of viewpoints among the election officials.

You've got friends in Cuyahoga County, I understand. You could try it there.

It may be worth doing, especially Cuyahoga County. They have so many elections because of all the different municipalities. And then I think we would have a little bit more data to deal with rather than supposition or anecdotes.... We say, "Let's try it and see." You know, after the November election.

What's the next election following November?

There's a special in February, and then there's the May primary next year. This would be for municipal elections, which would make more sense -- a smaller election, a safer environment, to try it in, [when] we're not hit by such large turnout.

It also might offer a good message to the voting machine companies, who I think pretty much feel, "Hey, you may hate us, but what else are you going to do? Where else are you going to go?" And it might send a message saying, "You know what? There may be other ways. You guys might not be the only game in town."

It wouldn't be willy-nilly, but it would be where we maybe set up a control, some control precincts and then these precincts, and we run processes and we see.

Yes.

So it would be worth trying as a pilot next year.

Brad Friedman is an investigative journalist/blogger and the creator/publisher of The Brad Blog, which focuses on issues involving election integrity. He and his work are currently highlighted in a number of documentaries now in release around the country, including David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and the just-released Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, by documentarian Patty Sharaf. Another interview with Brunner discussing related issues is posted on AlterNet.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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