Suit Seeks to Stop Last Minute Implementation of ES&S Voting Machines In Allegheny County
By John Gideon on 4/12/2006, 2:06pm PT  


Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Just announced by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the news that a group of citizens and People For The American Way have filed suit against the Secretary of State; Dan Onorato, Allegheny County Chief Executive; James Flynn, County Manager; and senior officials at the federal Department of Justice. The citizen group includes members of the disabilities community who want to make sure the County purchases machines that are accessible to all individuals with disabilities.

KDKA reports:

The lawsuit filed today says that decision risks chaos on Election Day because of the lack of time to train election officials and educate voters about the change from lever machines which have been in use for 40 years.

"This rush to a new and flawed technology just weeks before the election threatens to sow chaos in the primary and compromise the fundamental rights of thousands of voters for years to come," says Harry Litman, the former United States Attorney in Pittsburgh and an attorney for the plaintiffs. "It's a bad deal for Allegheny County, and, we believe, a violation of federal law."

The suit, Celeste Taylor v. Dan Onorato asks the court to prevent use of machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software until the County has spent the time necessary to identify voting systems that are secure; reliable; and accessible to voters with disabilities.
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The plaintiffs cite elections in Texas, Florida, California, Ohio, and North and South Carolina where ES&S machines failed on Election Day.

A report by the Inspector General in Miami of a 2002 election found that the ES&S machines were not properly prepared; their results could not be audited; poll workers were unable to operate machines; and large number of voters simply gave up as a result.
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The complaint alleges that DOJ has pressured Allegheny to buy the new machines by improperly threatening to take back about $12 million that has been given to Pennsylvania for improved voting systems.

These machines are sold and serviced by Elections Systems and Software, the same company that has played a major role in failures of memory cards and is a large reason why this nation is headed for a "Train Wreck" in our primary elections and, if no action is taken, in November.