Contact: Kathy McPherson
Mercer County Citizens for Better Government
oakhill1863@yahoo.com
(724) 347-6615

Mercer County's Report Reveals Severe Election 2004 Flaws

Hermitage, PA Tuesday, April 14, 2005. The November 2004 Election left behind a 7.93% presidential undervote rate in Mercer County PA, with every one of the 100 precincts reporting more than 5% of the ballots cast without a vote for president. The county’s Board of Commissioners appointed an eight-member Independent Election Committee to investigate the problems that occurred in the General Election and make recommendations to improve future elections.

The report reveals that thirteen of the county's 100 precincts were affected by a coding error, which caused widespread voting machine failures and undervote rates of 70% and 80% in two precincts. Twenty-eight others experienced substantial undervote rates, with one precinct reporting 9.3% ballots without votes for president.

The Committee determined the high rate of lost votes to be caused by the use of faulty machines as well as the "numerous difficulties" experienced by voters attempting to vote on the UniLect Patriot machines:

- difficult to vote straight party ticket
- difficult for elderly or handicapped voter to press box correctly
- difficult to read monitor
- not enough privacy
- difficult to follow logic of page layout (especially the “To Review and Record Your Vote” option)
- not obvious to voters or election workers when the machine is working improperly

The report, issued on February 8, 2005, was given consideration by the Pennsylvania Department of State and Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortez during the re-examination of the UniLect Patriot Voting System held in Harrisburg, PA. The State decertified the system on April 7.

"This report provides compelling evidence of the serious problems that can happen during an election using a voting system which does not provide voter verified paper ballots," said Kathy McPherson of Mercer County Citizens for Better Government, a watchdog group currently pressing for the addition of vote-verification printers to the state's paperless electronic voting systems.

A copy of the report is available in pdf format at (http://www.votersunite.org/info/MercerCtyElectionCommitteeReport.pdf) and through the Pennsylvania Department of State at (http://www.dos.state.pa.us/election_reform/lib/election_reform/Mercer_Cty_Election_Committee_Report.pdf.)

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