Thursday, March 02, 2006


State tries to allay fears on voting - machine security


Some county elections officials are raising security concerns about a state requirement regarding new electronic touchscreen voting devices from Diebold. The state says those worries are unfounded.


At issue are the access cards needed to activate the Diebold machines that will be used in 47 of Ohio’s 88 counties starting with the May primary.


Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell last week issued a directive to the counties requiring them to send their access cards to his office before the primary so the security codes can be changed. The cards then would be returned to the counties.


Some officials are concerned about shipping costs and whether there could be a security risk when the cards are out of elections officials’ control during transit.


"I just feel very strongly there’s a problem here," said Linda S. Stutz, director of the Van Wert County Board of Elections.


Blackwell spokesman James Lee said it’s less expensive and more secure for Blackwell’s office to update the cards instead of having each county handle the work, and that a password needed to use the cards will be sent separately and securely to each county board.


Lee said voters should not have any security concerns about the new directive, noting that signatures for shipments will be required and that the access cards will be useless without the new passwords.


Fairfield County plans to have a county worker take its cards to Blackwell’s office to be updated and return with them the same day, elections board Director Alice Nicolia said.


— Mark Niquette


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