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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2003

Bill calls for printed record of votes


State Sen. Teresa Fedor and state Rep. Peter Ujvagi, both Toledo Democrats, have submitted legislation that would require Ohio voting machines to produce a printed paper record of every person s vote.

Voters would then be able to inspect the record before leaving the polls.

“This will require a permanent paper trail on any electronic voting machine that would be purchased by the secretary of state or by [county] boards of election,” Mr. Ujvagi said yesterday.

Another provision would mandate that the state, not private companies, control activation codes for electronic voting machines.

The bill “is very, very important in both building the confidence of voters in our electoral process, and secondly and most importantly, to make sure there is a hard copy of every vote that is cast in this state,” Mr. Ujvagi said.

Paula Hicks-Hudson, deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said the security of voting systems is not much of a problem because of several procedures and measures enacted by election professionals that are designed to protect the integrity of elections.

But, she said, she could support the proposed legislation.

“If it will increase voter confidence and will help increase voter participation, I am all for it. I think it is critical that we do all that we can to make sure that voter confidence is at a high level,” she said.

Mr. Ujvagi and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) told reporters in a Government Center news conference yesterday that they want Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, to grant county election boards more time in choosing which electronic voting machines they wish to purchase.

The federal Help America Vote Act provides more than $150 million in federal money to pay for new machines in Ohio.

Mr. Blackwell had directed counties to make their selection by mid-January, but voting machine vendors are still correcting gaps in their software programs to make the machines more secure. It is unclear when the machines will be approved by the state.

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