Westmoreland County voting machines get one final test before last hurrah | TribLIVE.com
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Rich Cholodofsky

Westmoreland County’s 880 touch-screen voting machines will be junked next month after the votes recorded in the Nov. 5 general election are made official.

County elections officials on Thursday ran the final tests on those machines to ensure they are operational one last time.

“I can’t say there was anything inaccurate about these machines. We had some power issues or people who didn’t understand how the straight ticket voting worked, but these machines have been very successful,” said elections bureau Director Beth Lechman.

The performance tests of the existing machines, which are conducted annually before each election, went off without a hitch on Thursday. Election officials used votes recorded on paper ballots and compared them to ballots cast on the touch-screen computers. Lechman said the computerized results mirrored the votes cast on the paper ballots.

Having replaced the manual, lever voting machines that were used in Westmoreland County for more than a half-century, the computerized system put into place in 2006 has become obsolete because it doesn’t provide a hard copy of vote totals registered on the machines. All the results on the current system are electronically stored and tabulated.

County commissioners last week approved the $7.1 million purchase of new touch-screen units that will be used starting with April’s presidential primary.

The new machines meet a gubernatorial mandate that Pennsylvania voting systems have verifiable paper trails. The units will spit out a paper ballot that voters will themselves insert in a scanner device to tabulate votes.

Voters will have an opportunity to view and test the new machines next week at the courthouse. Demonstrations of the new system will be set up in the courthouse lobby from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 21 through Oct. 23, Lechman said.

Meanwhile, the machines used next month will be discarded.

“They have no value because there is no paper trail,” Lechman said.

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