Wednesday, January 04, 2006

No Diebold here. Maybe.

Here in NE Pennsylvania at least one county is balking at switching over to computer voting machines. For as long I’ve lived here (20 years) we’ve used lever voting machines. I’m no expert on voting machines (I’m for paper ballots) and I don’t know if these machines are easy to rig. Though they make it tough to cast a write in, they are pretty easy to understand and there's always a volunteer hovering nearby in case you get confused.

The county supervisors balk at the expense of replacing perfectly serviceable lever machines and also cite public opposition to machines that don’t provide a paper record.

The commissioners passed a resolution last month formally accepting $630,000 in federal funds, funneled through the state, as part of the Help America Vote Act. Some estimates place total cost of replacing Monroe's 120 lever machines at $1.2 million, with the county expected to cover nearly half the total.

Voting jurisdictions throughout the U.S. are being told to replace older voting machines with new machines employing computer technology. The legislation was prompted by voting irregularities in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, including confusing punch ballots that resulted in "hanging chads" that were only partially removed by voters.

"I believe it was a knee-jerk reaction to that situation," Monroe County Commissioner Bob Nothstein says of the voting machine replacement mandate. "Our machines work fine."

Monroe County has used the same pull-lever machines for several years. The commissioners announced more than a year ago that they won't allocate any county money for buying the new machines. Monroe is the only county in the state to take such a stand.

The commissioners believe, however, that the $630,000 grant may be sufficient to replace its voting machines without the need for additional funding. One option being explored is to lease the new machines.

"We have no idea if additional money will be needed or not," said Commissioners Chairwoman Donna Asure. "Until we know what a lease option will cost us ..." Link

Asure said many residents have e-mailed the commissioners in opposition to use of new computer voting machines, particularly machines that don't provide a paper receipt acknowledging that each voter's ballot was recorded.
I’m sure Santorum longs for lots of new, Republican favoring Diebold voting machines with preprogrammed outcomes.

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