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Westmoreland will save on moving voting machines

| Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Westmoreland County election officials expect to save more than $20,000 in voting machine transport costs in the May primary election.

Election Director Paula T. Pedicone said the moving company will be carrying a much lighter load to the county's 306 polling places May 16. The county's 240,000 registered voters will be casting ballots for the first time on the iVotronic touch-screen voting machine, a model replacing the bulky levered machines that had been used for almost half a century.

Even in their protective moving cases, Pedicone said, the iVotronics weigh much less than their predecessors.

"There's a big difference between a 65-pound unit and one that weighs 800 pounds," she said.

The county is purchasing 800 iVotronics from Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software Inc. for $2.5 million, a cost that will be covered by $2.9 million in federal money held in escrow by the Pennsylvania Department of State. By the primary, 740 of the machines are scheduled to be in place, with the remaining 60 to arrive by the November general election.

County officials say they were required to switch to an electronic voting system this year under the Help America Vote Act, a four-year-old federal law passed in response to counting problems that plagued the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

Ryan Moving and Storage Inc., of Pittsburgh, submitted the lone bid for the May 16 transport. The county commissioners are expected to approve the $11,990 contract this week.

In November, Vesely Brothers Moving and Storage Inc., of Belle Vernon, was granted a $32,500 contract to move the levered machines.

Westmoreland's levered machines remain at a county warehouse for now, but Pedicone said they're destined for the scrap yard.

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