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Published: Monday, 3/3/2008

Ohio s top elections official is optimistic


CLEVELAND - Ohio's top election official, who overhauled the troubled operation in the state's most populous county, expressed confidence yesterday in preparations for a new system that's been put in place for tomorrow's crucial presidential primary.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, toured the county's vote-counting center in a six-story warehouse and said she was impressed.

She stopped short of predicting when the results would be known.

"I believe we'll have a good idea [Wednesday morning]," Ms. Brunner said. "I'm not even going to try to predict when we're going to have a good sense of where Ohio is."

Election watchdogs are worried that votes in Cuyahoga County, with more than 250,000 Democrats among its registered voters, will be lost because of the switch from electronic touch-screen voting to paper ballots and a new vote counting system.

Ms. Brunner indicated her confidence in the board's operations wasn't shaken by a Friday vote-scanning test failure and said such equipment failures were the one variable hardest to control in election work.

"What I have said in the past is that the one thing that we have probably less control over than anything else is the operation, is how the equipment actually performs," she said.

She said the new leadership of the board - director Jane Platten and deputy director Patrick McDonald - had simplified systems to make it easier to quickly correct problems.

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