Voting machines challenged in Pennsylvania court

| Monday, August 28, 2006

With less than three months remaining until Election Day, a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania seeks to prevent counties in the state from using “paperless” electronic voting machines.

Voter advocates say they filed the lawsuit because such systems provide no paper record to use for any potential recounts, audits or other problems.

The lawsuit asks the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to decertify machines used in 57 of the state’s 67 counties, The Associated Press reported. The advocacy group, dubbed Voter Action, would prefer to see voters fill in bubbles on paper forms that are tabulated in scanning machines.

The 10 counties not affected by the suit use optical scanning systems.

The suit alleges that the state’s election code and constitution are being violated by certifying paperless electronic voting machines.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state this year to have a lawsuit filed challenging voting methods. A similar suit helped force New Mexico to go to optical scan ballots earlier this year. Other suits involving paper-based voting systems have been filed in Arizona, California and Colorado with legal action soon planned for Ohio.

An official with the Pennsylvania Department of State said she doubts the validity of the legal challenge. Leslie Amoros, an agency spokeswoman, told The AP the systems have been certified and can reconstruct votes based on computer images.

The plaintiffs don’t buy it. They claim votes have been lost several times because of computer glitches most recently in Allegheny and Centre counties during the May primary. They point out that other problems could be going undetected.

Lowell Finley, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said more voting problems are likely on the horizon.

“Unless the court acts quickly to prevent it, many Pennsylvania counties are headed for serious problems in the November election,” Finley said in a written statement.

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