08 April 2005

County voting system invalid

J.D. Prose - 04/08/2005

BEAVER - The Pennsylvania Department of State said Thursday that Beaver County's $1.2 million electronic touch-screen voting system is unreliable and can no longer be used, even in the primary election that is only five weeks away.

"Needless to say, we're all shocked by this finding, and we need to work our way through," Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella said. County elections chief Dorene Mandity declined to comment, saying she had not yet read the state's report.

In decertifying the UniLect Patriot system, Secretary of State Pedro Cortes cited concerns he had after a re-examination of it on Feb. 15 by Carnegie Mellon University computer professor Michael Shamos that was prompted in part by a petition filed by Beaver County residents.

Cortes said in a five-page report that the Patriot system does not meet the state's criteria of being "safely and efficiently useable" in elections, or "capable of absolute accuracy." Cortes said the system is also confusing and difficult to learn, "displaying messages whose import is misleading or unclear."

Cortes' decision means that Beaver County, as well as Mercer and Greene counties, cannot use the Patriot system in the May 17 primary. These are the only three counties in the state that use the Patriot system.


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