In Mar. 6-12 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
JAMESTOWN - After spending untold amounts of money on electronic voting equipment, Ohio voters this week marked paper ballots because of fears over the security of electronic voting.
There is not any problem with the electronic voting equipment here, reports Lisha Popplewell, this county's clerk and therefore the person responsible for local oversight of elections.
She said the hoopla nationally over the electronic voting equipment makes no sense to her.
"I just don't see any way anyone could possibly do anything to these machines without us knowing about it," Popplewell said.
She said the machines are all kept locked up when not in use and before the election the different components within each machine are inspected and sealed by her, the machine's company representative and by a member of the local election commission.
"There are 5 seals," she explained.
After votes are cast only one of the two recording devices in the machine is used to derive the printed accounting for the votes cast on that machine, while the other is left undisturbed as a safeguard against anything that could happen to the printed record.
"I personally am very satisfied with the process," Popplewell said. "Kentucky has always had one of the best voting records."
She said the machines are not susceptible to tampering in large part because they are locked away until in use and supervised closely when in use.
She added that they are also safe because there is no electronic data connection between the voting machines and any other device from the time they are programmed until months after the vote is counted.
She explained that in the California experiment that got the public concern over the machines started, the testers were given the code for the software that runs the equipment and they were given access to the normally locked-up internal components of the voting machines.
"It still took them weeks to crack into the system," Popplewell added.
Another 2006 study at Princeton returned a report that e-voting machines were hackable but a story in "Information Week" reported that they found his testers had to have access to a locked panel on the machine to hack it and that the machines in question were the out-of-date units that aren't used in any state.
In recent studies the testers in California wrote in their released report that they could alter the outcome of elections recorded on electronic voting equipment as well as in the paper voting when it was read by optical scanners. In both cases, however, they did have access directly with the machines they were trying to corrupt, as well as the central server which gathered the voting results.
In Russell County, the central computer which tabulates votes is -- as it has been for years -- the clerks in the office. They gather the printed totals from the machines. They tabulate and total them and other clerks verify and validate all entries in the ledgers and all the math.
Popplewell added that there is equipment that could read such information directly from the machines and total it for a direct accounting of the election, but it isn't owned by the county and isn't present in her office.
She said she wanted no doubt about whether anyone in her office could access the inner working of the machines, and without that equipment they can't.
Primary voting in Kentucky is May 20 this year. Citizens have until April 22 to register, Popplewell added.
Anyone who misses that deadline must register between May 27 and October 7 if they want to vote in the November General Election.
Early voting will begin on machine at the court house two weeks before each election, she said.
Absentee ballots have to be requested at least seven days before any election and must be returned no later than the date of the election.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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