Election day lines caused by voting machine shortage and other factors

On Election Day, voters all over Franklin County encountered line.

An analysis of data provided by the Franklin county board of elections reveals disparate voter to machine ratios. It went from as low as 108 registered voters per machine in Gahana, to as high as 550 in the Ohio State University area.

An analysis of the distribution of voting machines also raises questions. This year nearly 2/3 of the precincts that lost machines went for Kerry. And, nearly 2/3 of the precincts where elections officials placed additional machines, favored President Bush.

Daniel Tokaji is an assistant professor of law at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and is an expert on elections issues. He says these numbers don’t show any sort of conspiracy to sway the vote, but they are cause for concern.

Franklin County Board of Elections director, Matthew Damshroder, who is a republican, says there are plenty of good explanations for the way the voting machines were distributed. Much of the county’s population growth has been in outlying and generally more conservative communities.

Elections director Matthew Damshroder defends the distribution of machines. The elections board staff began the process of allocating machines over the summer, before the final rush of voter registration forms that came in at the end of September. In October the department finalized the placement of machines based on registration numbers, active voter figures and past voter turnout. Damshroder says his department did the best it could with a limited number of voting machines.

Franklin county has about 3000 voting machines. Damshroder says it needs something more like 4500. Damshroder says he hopes the county will be able get federal funding through the help America vote act to replace its current machines with ones that meet all the new state and federal standards, and he’ll be lobbying to make sure Franklin county gets enough machines that the lines won’t be this bad again.

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