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UniLect voting machine remains barred in Pa.
4/29/2005, 6:14 p.m. ET
The Associated Press    

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) ? State election officials on Friday refused to lift their ban on a touch-screen voting machine that was used in three western Pennsylvania counties despite the manufacturer's attempts to get them to reconsider.   
UniLect Corp. alleged that the April 7 decertification of its Patriot voting system was based on shoddy work by a consultant, but the consultant's second evaluation last week found similar problems in getting the machines to respond to finger touches.

"We can't necessarily allow voters to go into polling places with any level of uncertainty that votes may not be counted," Department of State spokesman Brian McDonald said.

Consultant Michael Shamos, who retested the machines for several hours last week, recommended that the decertification stay in place, and Secretary of State Pedro Cortes agreed, McDonald said.

UniLect president Jack Gerbel said Friday that he did not know how the company would respond, but said the Dublin, Calif.-based company is having problems only in Pennsylvania and not in the four other states that use the Patriot machines.

"The other states are standing by us," said Gerbel, who would not identify those states.

Election officials in Beaver, Greene and Mercer counties have said they will substitute paper ballots for UniLect's touch-screen machines in the May 17 primary.

The state's initial review had been prompted by a group of Beaver County voters who had protested the voting system, but a separate study by Grove City College researchers also raised questions.

That study indicated that the "undercount" ? the difference between the number of voters who cast ballots and the total votes counted ? in November's presidential vote was substantially higher in the three Pennsylvania counties served by UniLect's machines than the 1.5 percent average for a group of 24 rural counties.


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