ALSO: 89 of Cuyahoga County, OH's ES&S precinct-based op-scan systems failed in pre-election testing
UPDATED: Sheriff's office to investigate server attack...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2010, 10:19pm PT  

Just in tonight as tabulation continues in Ohio's primary election today. Via Josh Sweigart at Middletown Journal:

HAMILTON — The Butler County Board of Elections website is under attack from an outside source, according to Board of Elections Director Betty McGary.

Although the "attack" is delaying communication of results on the board of election's website, McGary said it is not having an impact on actual ballot counting.

“We do not think that anyone has hacked into our site, but we have crashed three servers. And in examining those servers, there are two unidentified sites that are deliberately diverting traffic.”

McGary added: “Our servers are under attack, we feel."

The board of elections' information technology department is still working on the issue, she said.

“Our IT is saying this is being done deliberately,” McGary said. “This is definitely something of a concern for us, but the votes are safe.”

Long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG will remember that similar "glitches" affected the 2004 Presidential Election in the Buckeye State when the election night reporting website went down late in the evening, was moved to the "back up servers" of a far Rightwing firm in Chattanooga, TN, before coming back up to show that George W. Bush had taken the lead over John Kerry.

That system was created by Mike Connell, the GOP's IT guru who, in 2008, was subpeonaed for a deposition in a long-standing 2004 election fraud suit, only to die in a mysterious plane crane just weeks after the election, before he could testify in open court. Computer security experts have long charged that the results of Ohio's '04 Presidential election may have been compromised by a so-called "man in the middle" computer attack as the servers changed locations that night.

Similarly, in the hotly contested 2005 Special Election contest between Jean Schmidt (R) and Paul Hackett (D) for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat, central tabulator computers went down during late-night counting in Clermont County, only to come back up showing Schmidt with the lead over Hackett.

Whether something similar could be going on tonight in Butler County remains to be seen, but the attacks on the servers certainly seem worth noting here should further information become available over the next few hours, days, or weeks.

[See end of article for an UPDATE on the above story.]

In another part of Ohio, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) experienced its own predictable failures with its ES&S precinct-based optical-scan vote tabulators during pre-election testing over the weekend. 89 of the county's 1,200 machines (6%) froze up entirely during those tests...

From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Saturday:

CLEVELAND, Ohio --- Six percent of the county's vote-counting scanner machines failed a pre-election test, but the elections chief said the board has enough backup machines for the Tuesday primary and is confident no votes will be lost if machines freeze up on election day.

All told, 89 of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' 1,200 machines powered down and then froze during a specific test done to ensure the optical scanners were reading paper ballots correctly.

Voting machine manufacturer Election Systems & Software, Inc., said it believes the problem has to do with the scanner's software. And they believe they have a coding update that will fix it.

The Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners needs to approved the update. ES&S believes it will be OK'd in time for November general election.
...
In addition, the board also tested 108 new machines that are slated to go back to ES&S, and found that 14 failed. A deal was struck for the board of elections to keep the machines until the old ones are fixed. The board can send out machines to precincts during the day if there are problems.

"So it wasn't only the machines that were used before, but brand new machines," said Jane Platten, executive director of the board of elections.

We've yet to hear of any problems at the polls today in Cuyahoga, though voting machine problems often tend to be noticed in the days, weeks, and months following elections, if not on Election Day/Night itself.

In today's election, OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner was overseeing her own election while facing off against OH's Lt. Governor Lee Fisher for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

Reports tonight indicate that Fisher has defeated Brunner, according to the results reported by Ohio's fully-computerized voting and tabulation system.

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UPDATE 5/7/10: Officials have determined that the Butler county server attack incident was serious enough to warrant an investigation by the County Sheriff's office. From is initiating an investigation. From today's Journal News...

The investigation by the sheriff’s office — which could take one to three months or longer — will determine whether someone or something hacked into county servers or whether it was the result of an internal computer glitch.
...
“We want the voting public know that we take this very seriously, and consider this a grave issue for us to get to the bottom of whether it was related to our internal system or whether there was an outside factor to this,” said Board of Elections Chairman Tom Ellis.

Ellis said the Board of Elections intends to release the full investigation to the public once it’s completed “to ensure the integrity and fairness of our election system.”

“This is something that we’re involved in a lot more than people would believe,” said Lt. Mike Craft of computer investigations. “It’s not an area that we’re not familiar with.”

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