Some electronic voting machines not 'up to date'
Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Staff and wire reports November 8, 2006
There were no hanging chads, but some voters were left hanging on Election Day.
Programming errors in every voting machine in Westmoreland County left voters standing in long lines at some polls, turned away at others and using paper ballots in one Jeannette precinct.
A software glitch that caused more than 800 touch-screen machines to act as though it was not Election Day prompted some computers to shut down early and others to never start at all.
Officials blamed the failures on a glitch in which the electronic ballots loaded into the new computers were given an incorrect time stamp. All of the county's more than 800 voting machines reflected Monday's date and were not ready to accept votes when the polls opened 7 a.m. Tuesday.
In the May primary, all but one of the state's 67 counties used electronic touch-screen or optical-scan voting systems that comply with new federal standards. Since then, Bucks County has also switched.
Allegheny County reported problems with just 20 of the county's 4,600 electronic voting machines, and only one of the county's 1,314 voting precincts lost all of its machines.
About 40 voters at the Monroeville precinct in the Third Street fire station were forced to use paper ballots until the error was corrected.
Election judge Nick Fiasco said the problem in Monroeville's 1st Ward, 1st Precinct, was not the result of poll workers failing to follow the proper steps in starting the machines. That was the primary cause of problems elsewhere, Allegheny County spokesman Kevin Evanto said.
Allegheny County Elections Division manager Mark Wolosik said the majority of voting machines, however, worked fine.
"Even with the mechanical machines, there were delay problems," he said.
State Republicans asked Secretary of State Pedro Cortes to investigate what they said were instances in at least 12 counties including Allegheny, Butler and Crawford where voters allegedly tried to vote for Republican candidates but that the machines reflected Democratic votes.
In Lawrence County, some people walked away from polling places without casting ballots because some machines didn't work properly, county elections director Marlene D. Gabriel said. A Common Pleas Court judge denied a petition to extend the polling hours past 8 p.m., she said.
Elsewhere in the nation, a federal judge ordered that 16 polling locations in Cleveland and its eastern suburbs stay open an extra 90 minutes because of voting machine problems and long lines.
In Indiana's Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, election officials switched to paper ballots in 175 of the county's 914 precincts because they couldn't operate the electronic-voting machines.