Thursday, January 24, 2008
Despite a directive by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordering all county Board of Elections members to respond to a survey about voting systems by a Friday deadline, Brunner's office has not received responses from 98 of the boards' 352 members as of today.
Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Brunner, said it's unclear what legal or punitive action board members could face. The office's election division is calling tardy members -- which make up about 28 percent of all board members today, Ortega said, adding: "Just fill out the survey.''
Brunner's survey found 61 percent of Republican board members are not concerned about a scientific report last month that all of Ohio's voting systems "carry serious risks to voting integrity." About 71 percent of the Democratic respondents, however, said they are concerned about the study's findings.
The survey also reflects a split within county boards when asked if they wanted to keep touch-screen voting machines -- which Brunner recommends replacing. If funding is available, about 31 percent of all respondents favored switching from touch-screen to optical scan -- which uses paper ballots.
Of the optical scan counties, only 13 percent said they'd agree to counting ballots centrally instead of at the precinct level.
Preliminary results indicate a general resistance to change, even if funding is provided, Brunner said.
254 total respondents out of 352 (72 percent of total)
133 or 53 percent Republican
121 or 48 percent Democrat
Do you have concerns as a result of the EVEREST findings (Direct Recording Electronic & Optical Scan counties)?
Total respondents 254
180 responded no (71 percent of total)
110 or 61 percent Republican
70 or 39 percent Democrat
68 responded yes (27 percent of total)
20 or 29 percent Republican
48 or 71 percent Democrat
(Four Democrats and two Republicans did not respond)
Do you wish to change your county's voting system to Central Count from the current precinct-level count? (Optical scan counties only)
Total respondents: 97
80 responded no (73 percent of total)
41 or 51 percent Republican
39 or 49 percent Democrat
14 responded yes (13 percent of total)
10 or 72 percent Republican
4 or 29 percent Democrat
7 did not respond
If funding is available to cover costs, do you wish to switch from touch-screen to Optical Scan or Central Count? (touch-screen counties only)
Total respondents: 158
92 responded no (58 percent of total)
44 or 48 percent Republican
48 or 52 percent Democrat
50 responded yes (31 percent of total)
26 or 52 percent Republican
24 or 48 percent Democrat
16 did not respond
"Change is difficult for many people, and our election officials seem to be struggling with our recommendations to move to optical scan paper ballots to provide more security and accountability for Ohio's election system," Brunner said in a news statement. "We must move forward now to prepare for November."
Since the results of Brunner's EVEREST report were made public last month, Brunner said her office "has been barraged with unsolicited calls and e-mails from individuals in the voting public who are mostly in favor of the need for the study and the proposed recommendations."
The running tally of responses is nearly 4-to-1 in favor of Brunner's plans to move to a paper ballot optical scan system to protect the integrity of the vote, according to her staff.
"Most voters seem to be asking why the controversy over a change to paper ballots that will provide for greater accountability and confidence that their vote will be counted," Brunner said today.
For readers able to access an Excel spreadsheet of all respondents, go here