A judge ruled Friday that scanning of absentee ballots can start early, but the ruling could be meaningless in Cuyahoga County unless election officials overcome a potentially devastating glitch in their scanners.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dan Gaul's ruling, which applies to all 88 counties in Ohio, says scanning may begin at 7 a.m. Monday, 19 hours earlier than Secretary of State Ken Blackwell planned to allow.
County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and County Prosecutor Bill Mason asked for the ruling to make sure as many as 100,000 absentee ballots get counted in Cuyahoga County by the end of Election Day.
But Cuyahoga officials discovered late in the week that their Diebold Election Systems scanners do not accurately read test ballots. The malfunction is similar to what happened in May, when the inability of scanners to read 17,000 misprinted absentee ballots forced a hand count that delayed election results for a week.
"I can't figure out how they are in the same predicament that they were in the primary," Dimora said Friday night. "It's mind-boggling. . . . We get this victory for the scanning issue and we might not be able to scan."
Dimora and Mason went to court Thursday to block Blackwell from prohibiting early scanning of absentee ballots.
The county has encouraged voters to use absentee ballots to avoid problems at polling places, and the result is a record number of requests for the ballots.
The county has encouraged voters to use absentee ballots to avoid problems at polling places...
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