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76 voting machines requested
Friday, September 16, 2005
By MATT DUNN    The Bridgeton News

BRIDGETON When the county purchased 120 new voting machines earlier this year, they assumed it would be enough to meet the county's needs.

Now Cumberland County Board of Elections Director Lucy Olszewski is requesting an additional 76 machines, at the advice of N.J. State Attorney General Peter Harvey, who is suggesting two voting machines at every polling site.

Olszewski strongly believes in having two machines at each polling site. 
The extra machines would cut back on the inconvenience of having to wait in long lines to cast a ballot, she said, in particular by accommodating handicapped voters, who she said take up to 20 minutes to vote.

"It would be a catastrophe if we were out there with only one machine," said Olszewski at Thursday's freeholders meeting.

The total cost of the additional machines would be $456,000, with the state reimbursing three-fourths of that cost, or $342,000.

The county still anticipates reimbursement for the purchase of the initial 120 machines.

In spite of what appears to be a generous discount promised by the state, Freeholder Jane Christy questioned the immediacy of the purchase.

Harvey suggested acquiring the machines in a letter to the county board of elections dated Feb. 16, 2005.

"Peter Harvey is strongly suggesting this," Christy said, scrutinizing the language of the letter. "It's not mandatory."

"We certainly have a lot of disabled voters," Freeholder Jim Rocco said. "But I'm surprised we'd be burdened with this at the last minute."

Olszewski claimed she has contacted the county finance committee many times before but received no response.

Freeholder Lou Magazzu, chairman of the finance committee, was absent Thursday.

"Freeholder (Director Doug) Rainear and I are on the finance committee and we've never been contacted," Freeholder Mary Gruccio stated.

As of Thursday night, no decision was made on Olszewski's request.

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