Husted Wants Review of Hamilton County's Voting Problems By Dec. 11
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told the Hamilton County Board of Elections Friday he wants a review of the county's problems with electronic poll books completed by Dec. 11.
Board members have already launched their investigation into what went wrong Tuesday, when poll worker confusion and technical problems with the new e-poll books caused a judge to extend voting hours to 9 p.m.
"As election officials, it is our duty to separate the facts from fiction and learn from every experience to ensure each election is run better than the last,'' Husted said in a letter to the four board of elections members.
The board had already set a meeting for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to begin its investigation before Husted sent his letter.
Board chairman Tim Burke, the Democratic Party chairman, and board member Alex Triantafilou, the Republican Party chairman, issued a letter to the public Thursday saying "the voters of Hamilton County deserve a better quality election than they had on Tuesday."
Friday afternoon, Burke said Dec. 11 should give the board enough time to figure out what happened.
"I welcome the fact that Secretary Husted understands this is something we can't do instantly,'' Burke said. "We will put together all information we can gather by Dec. 11 and deliver it to him. If it takes a little more time, then so be it."
Update 3:30 p.m.: Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is among those calling for an investigation into Tuesday's election. A series of equipment failures led to a judge ordering polls stay open an extra 90 minutes.
Judge Robert Ruehlman was worried some people were unable to vote because of software glitches and confusion among poll workers. Portune says an independent, bi-partisan review of the election system is needed.
“It’s our responsibility to correct," says Portune. "We need to make sure that we can answer to the state and to the nation that Hamilton County, which will be a battleground if not the battleground county in the Presidential election next year, that we don’t have any problems at all in how this election is conducted.”
Portune says some new e-polling books had problems Tuesday night and poll workers weren't always adequately trained to operate the devices.
While the board of elections said it had back-up plans, Portune says the fail-safes failed.
“In a number of polling places the paper back-up, meaning the poll books that have the print-outs of people’s names, copies of their signatures, that they’re registered to vote or not, was not used.” Portune says a directive went out to some polling places telling workers not to use the paper poll books.
Commission President Greg Hartmann says the board of elections is conducting an investigation, but an independent review is critical.
Original Post: A little over one thousand Hamilton County voters went to the polls between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday after a judge ordered polling hours to be extended.
Elections director Sherry Poland said all 1,090 cast after 7:30 p.m. were cast as provisional ballots and will be counted later. Altogether, Hamilton County had about 11,000 provisional ballots cast Tuesday.
Poland says voter turnout in Hamilton County Tuesday was higher than expected at 39.5 percent and could reach 40 percent with the provisionals and absentee ballots still coming in.
Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlmann ordered the polls to remain open after a complaint was filed on behalf of attorney Eric Kearney arguing that glitches with the county's new e-polling system may have prevented some people from voting.
Poland said the board of elections will meet November 14 to begin the official count of Tuesday's election. They must certify the results by November 24.