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February 28, 2006

Voting Activists accused by PA SofS of stalling HAVA
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Blaming the Victims?

by VotePA


For Immediate Release: February 28, 2006


Westmoreland County citizens responded strongly today to Secretary of State Pedro CortÚs’ recent memorandum that stated their court case has impeded the progress Pennsylvania counties are making toward buying new voting machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act by the May 16 primary election.

Ten Westmoreland voters filed a lawsuit last month along with state senator Jim Ferlo who represents part of the county, seeking to preserve the right to choose a voting system under the Pennsylvania Constitution and approve any change from lever machines to electronic voting by referendum. Earlier this month Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled in favor of the citizens, but Westmoreland County and the Pennsylvania Department of State have appealed that decision to the State Supreme Court. In the meantime, Secretary CortÚs’ memorandum was sent to all county officials and appeared on Governor Ed Rendell’s web site over the weekend.

As lead plaintiff in the suit, Mary Beth Kuznik expressed dismay that an honest effort made by citizens to preserve the rights of all Pennsylvanians under the state Constitution was being blamed for a delay in buying voting machines and a potential loss of Help America Vote Act funding...

Kuznik said that her group and others are calling upon Secretary CortÚs and Governor Rendell take the next step to make sure that votes are protected by pushing for hearings and ultimate passage of SB 977 / HB 2000.

SB 977 and its identical House version HB 2000 would provide that all voting systems in the state produce a paper record or ballot allowing voters to verify that their choices are being recorded as cast, with an audit of 5% of the precincts chosen at random in each election. The bills, proposed by Senator Joe Conti (R-Bucks) and Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) have co-sponsorship of over one-fourth of their respective houses, but are delayed in the State Government committees and have been unable to move to either the public hearings called for by the Governor’s Task Force on Election Reform, or to a floor vote in the General Assembly.

“Pennsylvanians want to see and verify their vote on a piece of recountable, auditable paper,” said Kuznik. “Regardless of the outcome of the Westmoreland County lawsuit, let’s get these bills moving and passed into law so that when we do move to the new machines our citizens can be confident that their votes will be counted accurately.”

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