State Attorneys Warn of Election Delays & Confusion if Lawsuit Over Software Patches on Some Ohio Vote Counting Machines is Upheld

State attorneys warned on Tuesday that Ohio could experience election delays and confusion if a judge upholds a complaint filed Monday that alleges that voting equipment in some counties raises the possibility of ballots being altered after they are cast. The state of Ohio is requesting that a federal judge reject the claims raised in the lawsuit that "experimental" and untested software installed by the state on vote counting machines could allow vote manipulation by non-election board officials.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by Ohio Green party co-chairman Bob Fitrakis against Ohio's election chief, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software.

The lawsuit asks a judge to order Ohio not to use ES&S hardware or software on Tuesday, and to break state contracts with ES&S for equipment to be used this year.

Attorneys representing Husted said that granting this request would thrwart the election's smooth operation, and state that not using the software would require election boards "to develop, communicate, and implement a new policy and procedures for collecting and reporting the votes in the middle of an election." Ohio assistant attorney general Richard Coglianese added:

"Such a last minute ruling would unnecessarily thwart the smooth operation of the election and result in inevitable delay and confusion for election officials and the public."

The lawsuit claims that a "back door" in ES&S software and hardware creates "an imminent risk" that people not supervised by election boards could "alter the recording and tabulation of votes cast by Ohio voters in the General Election."

On Tuesday, a hearing was underway in Columbus before U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Forst.