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Woman: Machine calls Santorum a democrat
York Daily Record  By BRENT BURKEY  November 7, 2006

Nearly 3 percent of county voting machines had problems this morning. A county official said the number is not “real bad.”

Nathalie Engdahl brought her 70 years of voting experience into a Manchester Township precinct building early this morning and voted straight Democrat.

But her experience has taught her to check over her ballot, and it didn't take her long to realize there was something wrong.

Incumbent Senator Rick Santorum is not a Democrat.

“I don't know how it happened,” said Engdahl, who was using York County's electronic voting machines for the second time. “It made me really mad.”

The 91-year-old lifetime voter said she was able to her vote before her ballot was cast. She started over, hit the Democrat button again, and saw the machine recorded a vote for challenger Bob Casey and the rest of the Democrats on the ballot.

Engdahl said she doesn't know how the machine malfunctioned the first time. She wants a paper ballot back.

“I think the average person would have overlooked the tally,” Engdahl said, and would have inadvertently voted for the wrong person.

Engdahl's glitch wasn't the only one reported in York County this morning, but the number is lower than in nearby Lebanon County, where electronic voting machine malfunctions caused an extension of poll hours and the passing out of pencils and paper.

York County Elections Director John Scott said he was told 15 to 20 electronic voting machines had malfunctioned as of 10:30 a.m. across the county from two separate problems.

In some cases, wires came loose inside several machines.

Scott said Sequoia Voting Systems, the company that sold its electronic voting machines to the county earlier this year, would help resolve the problem for the next election and the machines would be checked prior to collecting votes.

Today, the machines were reset and were collecting votes through a manual setting, Scott said.

“There won't be a repeat of that,” Scott said.

In other cases, several machines had been programmed with an incorrect date. The machines were reprogrammed with the correct date and operated smoothly, Scott said.

The county has about 650 electronic voting machines, and Scott said the low number of malfunctions was a positive sign.

“I don't think that's real bad,” Scott said.

Some of the worst problems in central Pennsylvania occurred in Lebanon County, where several precincts had switched to emergency paper ballots filled out with pencils earlier this morning.

Lebanon County officials extended poll hours to 9 p.m. to help make up for the number of machine malfunctions.

There were problems with the vote-counting machine at the SAVES station in McSherrystown this morning, but voting continued. Several precincts in Adams County reported problems with electronic scanning machines this morning, said Monica Dutko, the county's director of Elections and Voter Registration. “We are looking into it,” she said. “But it's not affecting people voting.”

In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to address concerns about voting raised in the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

Machines must meet criteria designed to increase accessibility for voters and decrease the possibility of fraud.

Today is York County's second go-round with the Sequoia machines, which were first used in the spring primary.

Few problems were reported with the machines this spring. Engdahl said she voted this spring and didn't have any problems.

“It is a very simple process,” Engdahl said.

But the malfunction today makes her doubt whether the electronic machines are recording an accurate vote, she said.


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