07 February 2006

Way clear for voting machines

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Feb 7, 2006

An Allegheny County judge rejected a request Monday from a group of voters seeking to bar the county from buying new voting machines.

[...] The voters group, led by Richard King, 49, of Squirrel Hill, filed suit Jan. 31 asking a judge to bar the county from buying machines. The suit, which King argued himself despite not being a lawyer, alleged that Pennsylvania law requires counties to hold a voter referendum when they want to change the type of voting machines they use.

But Allegheny County Common Pleas Court President Judge Joseph James rejected the request for an injunction, finding that the county has not yet signaled its intention to act. "I do not believe the county is at the precipice of entering into a contract," he said.

[...] Allegheny County's three-member elections board twice has postponed deciding which company would supply about 5,700 new voting machines to replace the lever systems the county has used since the 1960s. The county faces a deadline today to accept terms from the one supplier that county officials say is capable of filling the order by the May 16 primary as required by law.

[...] But voting rights activists, including King, fear the county is not considering machines that provide voters a verifiable paper trial showing whom they voted for and proving their ballots were cast.

National controversy about Diebold has led one of three election board members to say he can't vote in favor of the company.

County Councilman John DeFazio, D-Shaler, said he has heard too much about problems with Diebold's machines, and allegations about a former company head's favoritism toward Republicans. "I feel that we should go with somebody other than Diebold from everything you hear, read and see in the paper," he said.


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