Friday, February 22, 2008

The Specter of 2004 Still Haunts Ohio

There has been plenty of talk about the rules in the Texas primary on March 4, but the other big one for the Democrats that day is in Ohio. And the Buckeye state has its own issues as the voters there enter the presidential nomination fray. A lot of these issues have to deal with the voting irregularities witnessed in the 2004 presidential election; as Ohio became the Florida of that election.

In this morning's Early Word post on The Caucus, there was but a blurb about the story that ran in the Wall Street Journal today about the potential for real problems in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area) specifically. The sudden change from touchscreen voting machines (What did Ohio-based Diebold rename itself?) to optical scan counting machines opens the door to problems as does trucking those ballots away from the individual precincts to be counted in a central location. The Wall Street Journal piece is but the tip of the iceberg though. These issues have received some attention in other circles as well. Joe Hall (via Election Updates) discusses the possibility of midday shut downs of polling places and cites Ohio State law professor, Ed Foley's, detailed account of the administrative challenges facing the Ohio presidential primary on March 4.

Dan Tokaji's (another OSU law professor) words from the Wall Street Journal article cited above ring true: "If the margin is large enough, nobody may care but [in a close election] mistakes are magnified." And with the polls for the Democratic race drawing closer to even than they have been in the state, that could spell real trouble for someone trying to win a decisive victory to get back in to the nomination race. It is interesting that all the warts in the system become noticeable when the races are so close. No one cares in a landslide.

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