Friday, March 14, 2008

VotePA Supports Fayette Move to Add Paper Ballot Precinct Scanners

Two Fayette commissioners supported the action to add paper ballot precinct scanners. Chairman Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky and Commissioner Vincent Vicites.

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink declined support, voting no and expressed questions about how the new paper system would be paid for during a Special Meeting to adopt the new voting system, and an Agenda and Regular board meeting that included 'ratifying' a financial arrangement.

See sidebar information for further details on the issue

Paper-Less Veto Your Vote

Fayette commissioners praised
Updated 03/14/2008 12:28:50 AM EDT

VotePA has announced its strong support of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners' final decision to purchase Hart/Intercivic eScan machines and paper ballots in time for the upcoming April and November elections.

The choice of paper ballots and scanners was made in lieu of adding more paperless Direct Record Electronic (DRE) eSlate machines to those already in use in the county.

This is the best possible choice the Fayette Commissioners could make with their county resources at this time. It only takes a few seconds for each voter to send his or her ballot through the scanner, and many voters can be marking their ballots at one time, so the new system will do more to reduce the chance of long lines of voters forming than additional eSlates ever could. And having a true voter-marked paper ballot will preserve each voter's choices should problems arise.

Studies in multiple states have shown that totally electronic voting machines without paper ballots and audits of the results may be vulnerable to hacking, lost votes, and miscounted elections. A US Government Accountability Office report recently pointed out that 18,000 lost votes in the 2006 Florida 13th Congressional race would have been salvageable had paper ballots been used instead of all-electronic DRE machines. Legislation pending at the federal and state level would require the use of paper records for all votes, and some pending bills will require voter-marked paper ballots of the exact type Fayette County will be getting.

If these bill pass in their current form, the choice made this week will put Fayette County well along the way to being ready to comply with the new law. HR 5036 has been proposed recently in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey as an "opt-in" bill that will reimburse counties making purchases such as scanners, paper ballots, and audits of the 2008 election.

VotePA urges all Fayette citizens to ask their Congressmen to cosponsor and support the HR 5036 legislation.

VotePA is a statewide alliance of groups and individuals that support voting rights and election integrity in Pennsylvania. The group can be reached on the web at

Marybeth Kuznik, executive director VotePA

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