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Lawrence election board to offer more training



Published: Wed, January 23, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

A former candidate wants the voting machine

manufacturer to look into her complaint.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — The Lawrence County Election Board intends to offer more training to poll workers in an effort to avoid problems alleged in the last election.

The board received a detailed complaint from Shirley Sallmen, who lost her bid for Lawrence County commissioner, about problems at polls throughout the county. Sallmen initially took the matter to Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, which remanded the matter to the county election board.

Sallmen cited numerous conversations she had with election workers throughout the county that claimed to have trouble starting the iVotronic Touch Screen machines at the beginning of the day, as well as printing papers showing the machines had zero votes on them before voting started.

Others talked of delays throughout the day, and some election workers claimed they were not given paper ballots to be used if the machines did not work.

Elections officials said most of the problems were due to poll worker error. Most did not follow proper directions or did not realize the machines were on a network and only one machine had to print a zero start to account for all machines in a precinct.

A group of rovers traveling from precinct to precinct rectified most problems, according to the elections board.

Elections office workers added that each precinct was given a packet with paper ballots, but some poll workers failed to follow instructions or check the packets. According to the office workers, when poll workers returned supplies on election night, all packets contained paper ballots.

Elections director Marlene Gabriel noted that there were delays throughout the day because of the large number of write-in ballots cast for the county study commission. More than 13,000 write-in votes were cast in November, she said.

“I think a big part of the problem is these people on the election boards do this twice a year, and it’s real hard to remember from one time to the next. It appeared to me that these problems occurred because these people didn’t know what to do,” said Tom Leslie, county solicitor. “I think education is the key to this.”

Sallmen and her attorney Joseph Kearney, however, want representatives from Election Systems and Software, the Omaha, Neb.-based manufacturer of the touch-screen machines, brought in to talk about the problems Sallmen uncovered.

The election board agreed to fax the list of Sallmen’s concerns to ES&S, but they also intend to give more training to poll workers for the April 22 primary election and keep making the machines accessible to the public before the election so they can get used to touch-screen voting.

cioffi@vindy.com


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