Fulton County Commissioners are right to stand up to Jennifer Brunner, Ohio Secretary of State.
Security problems were discovered in Ohio's touch screen voting machines, including the type used by Fulton County. Supposedly they can be tampered with using magnets and certain cell phones. As a result, Brunner has issued a directive telling county board of elections to provide paper ballots for persons who don't trust the machines.
Brunner wants to begin the process of converting from touch-screen voting machines to an optical-scanning system, where ballots are cast on paper and fed through a machine that "reads" them.
It might sound reasonable, but what Fulton County residents need to know is "paper ballot" voting in March will cost the county about $20,000. The estimated price to convert to paper ballots for the November presidential election is close to half a million dollars.
Fulton County Commissioners are trying to run the county on a shoestring budget now. They're trying to find ways to save pennies and dimes, much less dollars. The Secretary of State has said she will try to find state or federal dollars to reimburse the counties, but she didn't give a firm commitment.
Whether the money comes from Fulton County or the state or federal governments, the dollars still come out of our pockets.
If Brunner can't find the money when the bills come due, it will come out of the Fulton County checkbook, and Fulton County does not have sufficient funds to cash the checks.
Voting in Ohio has been under question since problems with electronic machines in the 2004 presidential election. The problems did not occur in Fulton County, because the Fulton County Board of Elections worked exceedingly hard to come up with a procedure that works.
Brett Kolb, director of the county Board of Elections, Kathy Meyer, deputy director, and the rest of the poll workers have established an impressive system of tests, locks, seals, and backups that other Ohio counties would do well to copy.
In spite of the fact that Brunner's directives are said to carry the weight of law, our county commissioners have refused to spend money they don't have, on a voting system Fulton County doesn't need.
The commissioners aren't standing alone. Our representatives in the Ohio legislature are behind them, and that's a big plus.
But even so, refusing an order from the Secretary of State takes courage, and our commissioners were not afraid to do it. The Fulton County voting system isn't broken, and doesn't need fixed.