Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Sunday, December 12, 2004

39 voting machines were left unused in Franklin County

Franklin County -- yes, the same county that had a glitch that gave Bush near 4,000 extra votes -- left 39 voting machines unused while people waited in long lines to vote.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - While some voters waited in long lines to cast a ballot, the Franklin County elections board left 39 voting machines unused on Election Day.

The unused equipment amounted to 1.4 percent of the county's 2,840 machines.

Twenty-two machines left in a warehouse as emergency replacements were never used on Election Day and 17 replacement machines were shipped but never activated at the polls, according to Elections Director Matthew Damschroder.

Damschroder said the day before the election, he ordered that all 99 reserve machines be sent to precincts where long lines were expected.

Damschroder said he learned the extent of the unused machines last the week. He said the new information meant that there were fewer unused machines than was thought, and he said no election results were affected.

Damschroder said the discrepancies occurred because information from the board's warehouse about the placement of machines wasn't communicated with his office staff when he prepared his postelection report.

Thomas Rosenberg, a lawyer who helped monitor the election for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Franklin County, called the revelations "disturbing" but said it was too soon to jump to conclusions.

"We hope that it is nothing more than human beings made errors of judgment for which all we can do is take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Damschroder said technicians hired to repair and deliver machines on Election Day indicated they had tried to deliver all of the machines. In some cases, the polls were closed or workers said they weren't needed, Damschroder said.