Train Wreck in Progress as Today's Primary Elections in PA Run Into Big Trouble...
Paper Ballots Being Passed Out, 'We're Dead' Says One Official ... (Who could have forseen such problems?!)
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2006, 3:00pm PT  


Pennsylvania is having their primary elections today and, as expected, the train wreck is underway. As reported by Philadelphia Daily News, hundreds of machines (in this case, those made by Danaher Guardian) have failed...

BREAKING NEWS: 100 voting machines broken

More than 100 voting machines are reported to be broken across the city, the Daily News has learned.

Apparently, the machines were broken when polls opened this morning --- they keep spitting out the paper tape that keeps the tally of the vote. It is the largest breakdown since we started using the new voting machines.

The broken machines were first reported in the weblog for TheNextMayor.com. Expect more on this story in tomorrow's Daily News.

The local ABC affiliate has more details. Amongst them...

The biggest problems have been at voting locations where multiple failures have been reported.

Ward 12, Division 20 in Germantown is one such location. Judge of Elections Bernard Bibbs followed the routine startup procedure, but neither machine would activate. In one case, the write-in paper tape just unrolled and then refused to roll back up. In the other case, the machine will only beep and do nothing else.

Bernard Bibbs/Judge of Elections: "We set them up the way they're supposed to be run electronically. They've been shut down all morning.... We're dead."

Similar problems have popped up across the city. Machines by the score have failed to operate. In most places, at least one machine is functioning. In those places where all the machines are down, voters can request a paper ballot.

Edward Schulgen/Deputy City Commissioner: "Give that voter a paper ballot, which is then sent to us after the election. We verify whether or not that person is registered in the right division. If that's correct, then we count that vote."

The number of failures seems to be evenly distributed across the city. It's more voting machine failures than the city has ever had before.

More from TheNextMayor.com...

This from an e-mail from a NextMayor friend...

"I voted before leaving for DC this morning and was told before voting that the write-in function on my machine was not working because the paper roll inside would not come up. Because I wanted to write in a candidate, I therefore had to fill out a provisional ballot, which may or may not be counted in the end.

I later heard from my judge of elections that this problem was happening AT EVERY VOTING MACHINE IN THE CITY."

LATE UPDATE: 100's of machines also failed in Pittsburgh across the state in Allegheny County! Details...