High-tech voting system calls for review of rules

Commissioners will meet Friday to discuss procedures for Tuesday's election.
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County commissioners will meeting in special session Friday in their capacity as the county board of elections to determine, among other things, exactly what will constitute a vote in Tuesday's primary election.
The meeting is set for 3 p.m. in the commissioners' conference room on the first floor of the courthouse.
At their chief clerk's meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Brian Beader explained that since the county has never conducted an election with an optical scan system, the election board must determine what type of markings on the paper ballots will be accepted should there be a recount or challenge.
In the optical scan voting, voters fill in ovals with a special pencil. The paper ballots are then fed through a scanner, which counts 8,000 ballots per hour.
Election Director Thomas Rookey said the county will get four scanners and he expects only about 32,000 voters to cast ballots.
Optical scan system
The state is paying about $83,000 for Mercer County to rent the optical scan equipment from ES & amp;S of Omaha, Neb., because it de-certified the county's $897,000 touch-screen computer voting system for voting in Pennsylvania because of inaccuracy.
At the meeting, commissioners also will have to work out details of the voting process under the new system so that instruction of poll workers can begin.
Rookey told commissioners Tuesday that Clarion County uses the same system and that he will bring a copy of that county's policies for possible adoption here.
Commissioners agreed Tuesday that no ballot boxes will be opened at polling places. Under the old computerized voting system, absentee ballots were transported to polling places, opened and counted with the other precinct votes. But commissioners believe that increases the possibility of tampering.
On election night, all ballots will be brought to the courthouse, where they will be scanned, with results expected to be available a few hours later.

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