Ohio Bans Voting Machine 'Sleepovers'

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The Ohio secretary of state has prohibited poll workers from taking voting machines home before Election Day, a practice known as "sleepovers." Jodi Dibble, deputy director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, says there has never been an incident of tampering.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like the middle-school gymnasium, if that's your polling place. But what about before Election Day? What's the best place to house the voting machines?

Well, for decades, poll workers in two dozen Ohio counties have provided a cozy safe haven for the machines during the final days in the countdown to E-day. They take the machines home.

No more. The Ohio Secretary of State says that practice must end, and I'm going to leave it to Jodi Dibble, deputy director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections. That's in northeastern Ohio. Warren, Ohio is the county seat. I'm going to leave it to you, Ms. Dibble, to share with us the name of this practice.

Ms. JODI DIBBLE (Deputy Director, Trumbull County Board of Elections): She termed it, our secretary of state, as sleepovers.

SIEGEL: Sleepovers for the voting machines.

Ms. DIBBLE: Yes.

SIEGEL: And what's the idea of polling workers taking the machines home with them?

Ms. DIBBLE: Well, there's so much equipment that the poll workers have to take, not only the machine, but all the other information - the signs they have to hang, the ballots, the ballot boxes, the sealed containers, locks, seals, everything to replace before they come back - that we have a choice of delivering them to polling places and leaving them to sit there or have our presiding judges pick them up a day or two before the election and take everything to their homes.

The secretary of state has made her choice, and we will follow it, but you know, in my mind, with our security practices that we have in place, we've never had an incident where anything has ever been tampered with in all the years that we've done the sleepovers.

SIEGEL: Isn't it odd, though, that a couple of days of keeping the voting machines in private houses, where they might be perfectly trustworthy people, something about it seems - it just seems less secure on the face of it than having them even for a few days, you know, locked in some room in a public place.

Ms. DIBBLE: Well, I think that that is her feeling, that this will give the public a better feeling of the security of the machines. So we are looking into how to implement this new directive and rule that she has made. Other counties in the state have already been delivering them and securing them at polling places, so we will do the same.

SIEGEL: Ms. Dibble, I'm just wondering before I let you go, I was just curious whether, apart from the logistics of all this on Election Day, where do you put the voting machines, how do you get them to the polling place at the right time - do you think that for poll workers, there might be just a little civic pride involved in being the keeper of the voting machines for a couple of days at home and the dimension of all this that is maybe not entirely rational but has been of some benefit to people all these years to feel that responsibility?

Ms. DIBBLE: You could be right. I'll be curious to see what the poll workers have to say. They may be happy. They're heavy, you know, and they have to go home, get them out of their car, carry them in the house, because they can't be out in the cold, then they got to - on election morning, they've got to put them back out in their car and they go to the polling place, and then all four poll workers carry them in.

SIEGEL: I bet they love carrying those machines.

Ms. DIBBLE: They're heavy though. They're 35 pounds. If there are four of them, they get heavy. But they probably do take pride in the fact that they have always been trusted to have them, and they take much pride in that they don't tamper with them.

SIEGEL: Well, Ms. Dibble, thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. DIBBLE: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Jodi Dibble, who is deputy director of the Trumbull County, Ohio, Board of Elections. There will be no more sleepovers for voting machines in Ohio.

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