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Destiny of voting machines still unknown



Published: Sat, April 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



MERCER, Pa. -- Local officials are waiting on the outcome of a re-examination of the Unilect Patriot touch-screen voting machines.

The re-examination took place Friday in Harrisburg.

State officials can stick by the decision earlier this month to decertify the machines for use in Pennsylvania or accept Unilect's contention that it can resolve all the problems cited in the de-certification report.

A decision won't make any immediate difference here. Election Director Thomas Rookey is working to implement a rented optical scan system as a temporary measure for the May 17 primary election, and it's too late to switch back to the Unilect machines.

Mercer County Commissioner Olivia Lazor, who attended the approximate five hour re-test Friday, said she is satisfied that the re-examination was "thorough." The question now, she said, is whether Unilect was able to satisfy state examiner Dr. Michael Shamos that the shortcomings described in his report earlier this month can be resolved. Shamos has been delegated by Secretary of State Pedro Cortes to make the decision, she said.

State officials would give no hint of when a decision would be reached. However, after the Feb. 15 re-examination, the state took nearly two months to determine the voting system was too inaccurate and inefficient to be used. Lazor said yesterday that Shamos told her the delay was the result of the time it took for a videotape of the re-examination to be made available to him.




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