Ohio's voting machines – brought to you by the Romneys

Manufacturer's ties to candidate's son and donors raise concerns about unfair influence on result

Washington

Mitt Romney's campaign has been hit by his links to a firm providing the voting machines that will be used to tally the ballots in the crucial state of Ohio, as concerns of voter fraud increase in the tightly fought race.

Ohio is traditionally seen as the closest and most important state in a presidential election. The close contest between Mr Romney and Barack Obama could easily come down to the counts in Ohio and Florida – the latter was the scene of a bitter struggle in 2000 between the Democrat Al Gore and George W Bush. Mr Obama still has a narrow lead over the Republican challenger in Ohio, according to polls, while Florida is tilted towards Mr Romney.

Salon magazine reported on Tuesday on the "extensive corporate ties to the Mitt Romney camp" of Hart InterCivic, the voting-machine provider that will be used to count the votes in Ohio, and the other key swing states of Colorado and Virginia. Reports in the US media since the end of last month have linked the company to Mr Romney's campaign donors and his son Tagg.

The Washington Post noted that the implication is that "Romney will enjoy some kind of malign leverage over the vote count in Ohio". Hart InterCivic said in a statement that it has a "long track record of supporting a fair and open democratic process. Any suggestions that the company might try to influence the outcome of election results is unfounded".

The swirling controversy over Hart InterCivic has provided a timely reminder that it's not just how you vote but how the votes are counted that could decide the winner of the election on 6 November. In 2004, the role of voting machines came under scrutiny in Ohio where Mr Bush defeated Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry by 118,601 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast. The result was controversial because Walden O'Dell, the chief executive of an Ohio-based voting-machine manufacturer, had earlier declared his commitment to helping secure Mr Bush's re-election.

With the campaigns going after every vote and the electoral stakes so high there are already signs of attempted election fraud. Voters in Florida, Virginia and Indiana had been receiving phone calls informing them – incorrectly – that they can vote by phone on election day. One Republican from St Augustine, Kurtis Killian, told the Associated Press that he had been called by a man identifying himself as an employee of the Florida Division of Elections.

Also in Florida, where early voting begins next Saturday, bogus letters have been sent to dozens of voters telling them their citizenship is in doubt. The letters – apparently targeting Republicans – say that if they attempt to vote before clearing up their status they would risk a jail sentence.

This year, as in 2008, the Obama campaign efforts have focused on early votes that can be cast either through absentee ballots or by voting in person. Mr Obama will vote in his home city of Chicago today. But in campaign appearances this week, Mr Romney has also been urging Republicans to take advantage of an early vote in states where it is permitted.

In the toss-up state of Iowa, voters can register and cast their ballot on the same day. Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, said voting has been made easier in the state thanks to convenient satellite voting stations where people can vote regardless of whether they are registered at that precinct.

Amid what Professor Hagle called a "general enthusiasm gap" for the incumbent President compared with in 2008, Democratic activists have focused on bringing out the student vote through the Campus Takeover initiative. "Celebrities take part and then walk the students to the satellite voting stations on campus," Professor Hagle said. The singer Bruce Springsteen was among those taking part last week.

Senator's rape comments pose problems

Mitt Romney has been embarrassed by a Senate candidate from his own party who said that pregnancy resulting from rape is "something that God intended to happen".

Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party-backed candidate who is running for a Senate seat in Indiana after knocking out veteran moderate Senator Richard Lugar in a primary contest, made the remark during an election debate on Tuesday night.

The timing of the remarks, coming just as Mr Romney is adopting more centrist positions as the election nears, will put fresh focus on the radical social conservatives who make up the party base.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone