Ohio Candidate Loses Bid for Electronic Voting Machine Ban

A Green Party candidate for one of Ohio’s 16 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives lost a bid for a court order blocking the use of electronic voting machines that he said might be tampered with.

U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost in Columbus today denied the request by Robert J. Fitrakis, who’s running in a district covering parts of that city, the state capital.

Fitrakis alleged in court papers filed yesterday that electronic voting machine software contain a “back door” through which vote tallies from today’s elections could be manipulated.

“Fitrakis has not provided actual evidence that demonstrates how this harm is a realistic possibility, much less how it is actual and imminent,” Frost said in a 10-page ruling after a hearing.

Ohio has 18 electoral votes sought by Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Winning requires 270. No Republican has ever won the office without also winning the state.

Their campaign has been marked by at least two dozen lawsuits in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and elsewhere over voter rules, photo ID requirements and polling place hours.

Fitrakis’s Lawyer

Fitrakis’s attorney, Clifford Arnebeck of Columbus, didn’t immediately reply to voice-mail and e-mail requests for comment.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, and Election Systems & Software Inc., based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Husted, yesterday rejected the allegations as “ridiculous” in a telephone interview.

“We did not touch, update, patch or do anything to the tabulation systems or the voting machines,” McClellan said. “There’s no vulnerability to the system whatsoever.”

A Husted staff member, Alexis Zoldan, said today the official would issue a statement on the ruling later.

Election Systems & Software earlier called the case “frivolous and without merit” in an e-mailed statement, saying it was filed “with the sole intent of undermining voter confidence.”

A company spokeswoman, Kathy Rogers, didn’t immediately reply today to an e-mailed request for comment on the decision.

The case is Fitrakis v. Husted, 12-cv-01015, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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