Saturday, January 26, 2008

PA Voting News

Group seeks to halt voting machine buy

Whether Lackawanna County voters use electronic touch-screen machines or another voting system in the April 22 primary may be decided by a state appeals court.

A Seattle-based organization that is challenging the legality of e-voting in Pennsylvania sought a preliminary injunction Friday in Commonwealth Court in Philadelphia that would effectively preclude the use of electronic voting machines in Lackawanna, Wayne and Northampton counties.

The group, Voter Action, contends touch-screen machines violate a provision of the state Election Code that requires a permanent physical record of each vote cast.

In a motion filed by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, the group specifically asked the court to prohibit Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes from allowing the counties to buy other touch-screen machines to replace their decertified Advanced Voting Solutions devices.

The counties have the option of using paper ballots with optical-scan equipment, the motion said.

“We are asking that they not be allowed to put $4 million down the same rat hole they’ve already put the other money,” said attorney Michael Churchill, who filed the paperwork, referring to the amount the state has agreed to reimburse the three counties for new machines.

Officials in Lackawanna and Wayne counties still have not selected voting systems for the primary but are under pressure to act quickly. Northampton County decided last week to purchase full-face touch-screen machines from Sequoia Voting Systems.
Block sought for voting machine purchase
Group wants injunction against Northampton County.
By Joe Nixon | Of The Morning Call
January 26, 2008

Electors already challenging electronic voting machines in Pennsylvania asked Commonwealth Court on Friday to stop Northampton and two other counties from buying a new electronic voting system to replace one decertified last year.

...The injunction request filed Friday said the action doesn't seek to prevent the use of electronic machines ''currently certified and already purchased, but merely to prevent the state from permitting counties to spend $4 million of state money on purchasing new machines which are the subject of this litigation and which, if petitioners prevail, will have to be sold for scrap.''

...The plaintiffs, which include Hanover Township, Northampton County, voting activist Dr. Alan Brau, have challenged the reliability and accuracy of direct recording electronic machines in a suit originally filed in 2006. That action is pending, but is on hold while the state Supreme Court considers a request from the state to hear an appeal of a Commonwealth Court decision that let the suit proceed.

The plaintiffs have alleged the machines don't provide a permanent physical record of each vote as required by the state election code. None of the machines, the voters say, is capable of a ''meaningful audit,'' and none has a ''voter-verified physical record of the voter's intent.''

''This [injunction request] is really an extension of the original suit,'' said Brau.

Those seeking the injunction argued that if the court prohibited the purchase of the challenged machines, counties would still have options. Those alternatives, they said, include the use of voter-marked paper ballots with precinct-based or centrally-based optical scan equipment. An optical scanner was among the options considered, but rejected, in Northampton.,0,2173000.story

Pennsylvania Voters Seek Injunction to Block Purchase of Electronic/Touchscreen Voting Systems
Jan 25 2008 | Cite Machines’ Inability to Verify Votes, Secretary’s non-compliance with law

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