Election Officials Oppose the Contentious Ohio Election Bill, Which the Bill's Proponent Defends

Election Officials Oppose the Contentious Ohio Election Bill, Which the Bill’s Proponent Defends

Cincinnati (WFCN) –

A major proponent of a bill in Ohio that would fundamentally alter the way votes are tallied on election night stood behind the plan, which is fiercely opposed by state election authorities.

Representative Bernard “Bunyan” Willis, (R)-Springfield, was questioned by Local 12 the following during an interview:

“This bill, according to some, is a problem in search of a solution. According to election officials, the system is currently operating smoothly and is operating beautifully. Why make this change of heart? What makes you want to switch now?”

“For far too long, we have allowed an event-driven system—which has evolved into essential infrastructure—to kind of linger. Essentially, this is about making an investment in our electoral future before a significant cybercrime or other incident occurs,” Willis stated.

Willis is a primary sponsor of one of Columbus’s two new election safety bills. The law would significantly elevate the accuracy requirements from the current state and federal norms. One problem is that there aren’t any of these machines, so manual counting might be necessary in the interim.

Election Officials Oppose the Contentious Ohio Election Bill, Which the Bill's Proponent Defends

Additionally, if counties so desire, they could transition to manual counting. However, Willis stated he is not in a rush to have it completed by the election day in November.

“With an election coming up, right, we know that their workload is going to go through the roof very soon, and that isn’t something that we want to impact at this point,” Willis said.


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Willis was also questioned by Local 12 over his belief—which has been denied by election officials across the country—that the machines in use today are hackable.

“Forensic investigations have demonstrated that even with a disabled wireless modem or device, a stationary system can still be accessed,” Willis stated. And things like that are the ones that can be done away with.

The proposal is fiercely opposed by officials, including Paul Adams, the director of the Loraine County Board of Elections, who claims it might lead to even more mistakes and delays in the results. Additionally, they made note of the fact that replacing the current machinery would cost millions and that the current legislation does not include a funding source.

“We’re constantly searching for methods to make Ohio’s elections better. Additionally, neither of these proposals, in our opinion, will do that,” stated Adams, the Ohio Elected Officials Association president.

This spring, the Butler County Election Board tested hand-counting ballots.

The report said that hand counting resulted in a 5.3% mistake rate during the test run, additional hours of delay, and a complete deployment that would, at most, cost an additional $800,000 in conservative estimates. To help pay for the upgrades, Willis said he intends to submit a follow-up appropriations proposal.

“Ohio is at the forefront of a nationwide shift that I think will occur in the way those systems are not only constructed, but also monitored,” Willis stated.

The majority whip is Senator Theresa Gavarone (R) of Bowling Green. In a statement, she stated that these improvements are necessary to ensure elections in the future and that she was a sponsor of a similar law. There hasn’t been a scheduled vote on either of the measures; they are currently in Columbus committee.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is in charge of all state elections, was questioned by Local 12 about the plans. According to his spokesperson, he is refusing interviews and that his administration is liaising with the bill sponsors behind closed doors to resolve any kinks.

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