Every voting machine in the county will be handicapped-accessible.
By MARY GRZEBIENIAK
MERCER, Pa. -- Three demonstrations have been set for the county's new electronic voting machines, Dr. Thomas Rookey, director of Registration and Elections, told the Mercer County Board of Elections.
The first will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon Friday at Sharon Senior Center in the Salvation Army, Sharon; most of the day Sept. 22 at the Senior Celebration at the Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage; and noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Farrell Festival on Veterans Square, across from Farrell City Hall. The new machines were used for the first time in the May primary election.
Rookey told the board last week that Election Systems & amp; Software, Omaha, Neb., has promised delivery of the final 39 voting machines by mid-September. This will bring the county to 290 voting machines, allowing two to five machines in each of the county's 100 precincts, depending on precinct size. The last time the county bought voting machines, it bought only 250. The extras will allow voting to move faster and provide backup in case of breakdowns.
Rookey commented that Mercer County is unique in Pennsylvania in that every voting machine will be handicap-accessible. State law requires only one machine per precinct to be accessible, but ES & amp;S offered the county all accessible machines during negotiations for the purchase.
Hiring more trouble-shooters
The board also agreed to hire three additional rovers for Election Day, to bring the number to 10. Rovers are trained in troubleshooting the election machines, and Rookey said the current ratio of one per 15 precincts is too low. The new hiring brings the ratio to one in 10 precincts.
The board also approved using a local studio to prepare the audio version of the ballot starting in 2008. Rookey will seek quotes from studios that have the required equipment. The audio version would be for handicapped voters who cannot read the ballot.
The board of elections is made up of the three county commissioners. Commissioners Brian Beader and Olivia Lazor attended the meeting, along with county Fiscal Director John Logan, who has been designated to sit on the board in place of Commissioner Michele Brooks until after the November election. Brooks had to temporarily remove herself from the board because she is on the ballot for the 17th District state representative's race.