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Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Ohio Voting Flap: Rural Board Withholds Records

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Reporter Alana Fahy of the Eagle-Gazette reports today that election officials in Fairfield County stonewalled a public records request for audit logs and electronic copies of poll books used last November. She said election officials are awaiting approval from Diebold Inc., which made the county's voting machines, before releasing the data.

"We want to make sure of what we are and are not permitted to do," Election Director Debbie Henderly said, a statement ripe with indications that the Fairfield County Board of Elections doesn't feel entirely in charge of voting processes and machinery these days.

The delay also looks to be in direct conflict with Ohio open records law. Fahy interviewed Candice Hoke, at Cleveland State University's center of election integrity, who said Diebold does not have authority to trump state law. "Logs should not be treated as proprietary information because the information is generated in the process of an election. These are all within the public domain," Hoke said.

Somehow, someday, somebody will realize that openness and transparency in the election process maintain and build public confidence. Doesn't delay fuel suspicion and add to concerns that that elections can be rigged? Shouldn't Fairfield County hand over records as quickly as possible? Does not the public take priority over Diebold? One could opine that stonewalling just adds to Ohio's reputation as a state where ballots are mishandled and miscounted.

The Fairfield Board of Elections Web site is HERE. And Candice Hoke's Center of Election Integrity at Cleveland State is HERE. She served on the panel that urged reforms on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, which has been plagued with screw ups.

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