Election Oversight A Vital Safeguard

Fortunately, a problem with the election last November in Miami County, Ohio, did not affect the outcome of any races on the ballot. Still, the fact that 6,000 ballots were not counted is disturbing.

Members of the county elections board had to meet this week to amend official returns. Board Chairman Dave Fisher said “the saving grace” was that no races were affected.

That may be something of a small miracle, given the enormous number of ballots involved.

It seems all the uncounted ballots were cast on touch-screen machines at the county courthouse. Why there were not counted initially is being investigated.

The error might never have been discovered had the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office not looked at results and questioned why the ballot total was lower than in previous elections.

Ballots lost between the time voters cast them and that when election results were tallied can be a serious problem. Earlier this month in Fairmont, W.Va., two people who had been sworn in to city council positions had to step away because of a mere 57 lost-then-found ballots that changed results.

Blame for election glitches seems to vary between human error and electronic failures. Clearly, they are going to be part of the democratic process for many years to come. That makes vigorous oversight by state election officers imperative to ensure the public can have faith in elections.

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