In the suburban county of Montgomery, just outside of Philadelphia, election officials have, inexcusably, been caught off guard by a new, court-mandated directive by PA's Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes.
The directive requires that counties have enough emergency paper ballots (EPBs) on hand at polling places to ensure that voters can vote if half, or more, of a precinct's voting machines break down. County officials admit today that they were completely unprepared for the directive, and even for the likelihood of serious machine failure, despite known problems with the touch-screen voting systems they use, or the extraordinary voter turnout long-predicted for next Tuesday.
The new directive [PDF] was issued yesterday, as we reported last night in our late update to our article on the lawsuit. The successful suit was filed last week against the Democratic Secretary, by the NAACP and a local election protection coalition. It followed on Cortes' directive a month a go that EPBs needed to be given out to voters only in the event of failure of 100% of a precinct's machines.
Cortes' original directive, and even the one issued yesterday, has been seen at odds with a PA statutory provision that allowed counties to offer paper ballots in the event that just one machine has failed. PA uses Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems across most of the state, and is a key battleground for John McCain's attempt to win the White House this year...