Ohio’s Franklin County Used Backup System to Check-In Voters After Technical Problems

November 3, 2020 Updated: November 3, 2020

Officials in Ohio’s Franklin County, the state’s most populous county, switched to paper poll books after encountering technical problems on Election Day, said Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Nov. 3.

Franklin County includes the capital city, Columbus.

County officials said the board of elections “will be using its backup paper poll books to check in voters today,” according to a statement. “This is why we have contingency plans in place and the process is working. We decided to go with the backup paper poll books to ensure that one voter can only cast one vote.”

A spokesman for LaRose, the state’s top elections official, warned that residents may have to wait in long lines to vote.

In a statement on Twitter, the Secretary of State’s team wrote that because of the glitch, officials “are shifting to paper pollbooks to check-in voters today.”

“It’s important to note that this does NOT impact voting machines in any way, and only modifies how voters are checked in,” a spokesperson for La Rose wrote. “Secretary LaRose directed every board of elections to have paper poll books as a contingency plan to ensure the integrity of the system and so no voter may vote twice. It will not impact the security or accuracy of today’s vote.”

Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, told the Columbus Dispatch, “We can’t guarantee all the data would be there for all the most recent absentee activity.”

About 350,982 people had cast early votes in Franklin County before Election Day via mail-in or early voting. The county has about 833,000 registered voters, according to the paper.

Leonard said it will likely slow the voting process.

“It will add a little bit of time to that first step,” Leonard said. “I think as our folks get their sea legs they’ll get a comfort level. For some of them, it’s what they were used to doing before poll pads.”

Ohio is considered a crucial battleground state in the 2020 election. Trump defeated his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton by more than 8 percentage points.

Franklin County in 2016 was won by Clinton, who took 59 percent of the vote, while Trump got 33 percent of the vote.