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Is Ohio voting software vulnerable to fraud? Court to hear Election Day case

A local candidate says a crucial piece of Ohio vote-tallying software was not properly vetted by the state and could be hacked. A judge will hear the case on Election Day and decide whether to grant an injunction against use of the software Tuesday.

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People took part in early voting in Columbus, Ohio, last week.

Eric Thayer/REUTERS

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A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Columbus, Ohio, charges the secretary of state's office with illegally installing untested software on voting systems in dozens of counties – a step that creates a digital “back door,” which someone wishing to alter vote totals might be able to exploit.

With Ohio seen as perhaps the most pivotal state in the presidential election, it is being closely watched for the slightest sign of irregularities.

The suit seeks a temporary injunction to prevent the state from using the software in Tuesday's election. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the US District Court for the southern district of Ohio, eastern division. If granted, an injunction could prevent Ohio votes from being formatted by the new software and sent to the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) after polls close.     

The suit alleges that the secretary of state's office used a legal loophole to install software on electronic voting systems in 39 counties across the state without having it checked by the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners, the state's technical board charged with reviewing elections software. State officials say they have followed federal guidelines and that the equipment is secure.

The software is installed on the central vote-tabulation machines in the counties. It is designed to make the process of tabulating votes faster and more accurate. Previously, reports generated by counties' tabulation systems would have to be entered by hand. The new software formats the reports so they can be more easily uploaded into the secretary of state's election system, says Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the Ohio secretary of state's office.

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