Election workers in Ohio badly bungled the process of loading paper cartridges into electronic voting machines during the May primaries - and Ohioans are now asking how a recount would be conducted if the paper trail is unavailable. The Cleveland Plains Dealer reports that the secretary of state's solution is to print out vote tallies from the machines' memory.
That solution robs voters of an independent backup record - a paper printout from a memory card is guaranteed to match what's on the memory card. "Aren't you defeating the purpose of the paper trail?" Bob Bennett, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, wondered during a recent meeting.
That solution seems to violate Ohio law, which requires a "voter verified paper audit trail" in electronic voting machines, according to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.
"The law clearly directs that for recounts, the paper trail is the official ballot of votes cast on electronic voting machines," said David Lambert, head of the civil division for the county prosecutor's office.
"While the secretary of state has broad authority to issue advice and directives to county board of elections, that authority does not include giving advice that runs contrary to the statute."