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Published: Monday, 1/28/2008

ACLU seeks to block paper voting system in Cuyahoga County


CLEVELAND The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Monday to block the March 4 presidential primary in Ohio s biggest county if it switches to a paper ballot system that doesn t allow voters to correct errors.

In a follow-up to a suit it filed Jan. 17, the ACLU of Ohio asked for a preliminary injunction against any election in Cuyahoga County if the switch is made.

The lawsuit argued that the proposed paper-ballot system would violate voters constitutional rights because it doesn t allow them to correct errors on ballots before the ballots are cast.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and has more than 1 million registered voters, plans to send all paper ballots from precincts to a central location to be scanned and counted.

The ACLU alleges that the optical-scan system and centralized vote tabulation would not give voters notice of ballot errors such as voting for two candidates for one office.

Opponents of the system say scanning should be done immediately at the precinct level to alert voters to such errors and allow them to correct invalid ballots.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen O Malley set a deadline of next Monday for the Ohio secretary of state and the county elections board to respond to the ACLU and a Feb. 5 hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction.

Jane Platten, director of the Cuyahoga County elections board, referred requests for comment to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, whose office handles legal matters for the elections board.

Mason and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the state s chief election officer, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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