CINCINNATI - Concerns about the integrity of Hamilton County’s voting machines mentioned on some blogs and websites are “baseless, unfounded and completely false,” said local election officials.
The Washington Post’s “Election 2012 Blog” was the latest media outlet Tuesday to repeat some people’s fear that voting machines built by a firm with ties to Bain and Co. might mean the devices could be remotely manipulated to change the votes it records.
Hamilton County’s voting machines were bought from Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas. Three of Hart’s five corporate board members are executives of HIG Capital, a private equity firm that invested in Hart last year. Meanwhile, four HIG executives have been identified as major contributors who have donated $338,000 to Mitt Romney’s campaign this year.
Three of those executives also used to work at Bain, where Romney was once employed.
The Washington Post described the blogosphere speculation as “the implication is that through these links Romney will enjoy some kind of malign leverage over the vote count in Ohio.”
Not so, said Amy Searcy, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
The machines used here are owned by Hamilton County, and board staffers conduct diagnostic maintenance and oversee the internal security controls, Searcy said.
More importantly, Hamilton County uses paper ballots which then are digitally scanned into the machines, she added.
“The reason our system is so trustworthy is we have paper ballots cast by voters. Some other counties just have paper backups, not paper ballots,” Searcy said.
“It actually counts the ballot right there (at the polls),” Searcy said. “Only the voters have control over the selection made on their ballots in Hamilton County, and that’s the way it should be.”
The machines have been used locally for the past seven years and there have been no major problems. The local elections board owns the equipment and the software, and does all tabulating. Further, the machines have no web access whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the Internet buzz has prompted a deluge of telephone calls to the Board of Elections from worried voters.
“All I know is the allegations are baseless, unfounded and completely false,” Searcy said. “Whatever their motivation, this is equipment we’ve had since 2005 and it’s proven highly reliable.
“I’m not going to speculate on (the websites’) motivation, but I wish they would stop and think and do some research before they spread information,” she added. “I want voters to believe in the security and validity of their ballots and have confidence.”
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.