e-polling

WVXU

All eyes were on the Alabama senate race this week. But there was also a legal battle over whether to keep digital ballot images or delete them.

Elections can be messy things.

And, by elections, we don’t mean campaigns – those are worse than messy; they are legalized madness. What we mean is the actual organizing of an election,  the running of polling places and the process of counting the votes.

Local boards of elections, for the most part, do a superb job of pulling them off.

But we have been covering politics and elections for over 40 years; and can’t remember a single one where something didn’t go wrong on Election Day – either by human error or technology failure or both.

Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

The Hamilton County Board of Elections spent two-and-a-half hours Tuesday morning delving into an investigation of last week’s election, which was plagued with problems caused by a new electronic poll book system.

One thing the board learned was this – the company that sold that sold it the $1.4 million system, Tenex, was willing to take the blame for the technical snafus.

WVXU-FM

  WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with news director Maryanne Zeleznik this morning about the problems Hamilton County had with its new electronic polling system last Tuesday night; and how they plan to fix it. 

Tuesday, over 198,000 Hamilton County voters checked in at their polling places and were processed with the brand-new electronic poll books and had absolutely no problems whatsoever.

They checked in; they voted; they went home with a “I voted” sticker for their lapels and shirt pockets.

But for a relative handful of voters – no one is quite sure yet how many, but board of elections officials call it a “significant number” – the new system caused a major headache and that ended up with several thousand more voters than usual casting provisional ballots; and, perhaps, disenfranchised some – probably because they got fed up with waiting and left the polling places.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Voting hours for Hamilton County extended by 90 minutes until 9 p.m. so voters who may not have voted because of glitches at the polling places can vote, a judge has ruled. 

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlmann made the decision after a hastily-arranged  hearing on a motion filed by an individual associated with ResponsibleOhio, the group backing Issue 3, which would legalize marijuana.  

Hamilton County’s polling places could soon replace paper poll books with electronic ones – possibly by November’s election.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections unanimously voted Monday morning to authorize its staff to prepare a contract with Tenax, a Florida company, to place the electronic poll books in all 373 of the county’s polling places.