MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County commissioners decided Tuesday to again use a rented optical scan system for the November election because time constraints make any other scenario impossible.
At the Chief Clerk's meeting, Commissioner Michele Brooks explained that the state will not even certify machines for use in Pennsylvania until September. This would be too late to examine the certified machines, choose one, buy it and have it in place for the general election.
However, Commissioner Olivia Lazor said that it is possible that some precincts may be used to test voting machines which would be considered for use in the county.
Still unresolved is the question of whether the state will pay the cost of renting the machines again in November.
A much larger question is also still unanswered. Commissioners are still negotiating on whether the state will reimburse Mercer County both for purchase of the Unilect voting machines which the state later decertified, as well as the new system the county will now have to purchase. The county is entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of a voting system to be in compliance with the "Help America Vote Act." The county paid nearly $1 million for the Unilect machines. Cost of a new system is not known.
Commissioners also said they hope to name a committee to research the voting systems available by August. They said they plan to include a member from the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging as well as a representative for the disabled, to ensure any new system is acceptable to these groups.