2008-12-25 / Local & State

Appeal Denied In Pa. Electronic Voting Suit

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Supreme Court denied an appeal by the secretary of the commonwealth in a lawsuit filed by a group of Pennsylvania voters who say electronic voting machines violate state election code.

The ruling this week clears the way for the Commonwealth Court to determine whether touch-screen machines violate the state code.

"It allows, finally, the courts to review whether the secretary of the commonwealth complied with his obligation to ensure that the Pennsylvania system of voting is reliable and safe,'' Michael Churchill, an attorney for the 25 voters who sued in August 2006, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The suit asks the Commonwealth Court to decertify direct recording electronic voting machines used in 50 of 67 counties.

The lawsuit says the machines are flawed, that they drop votes and register votes for the wrong candidate, and violate the state election code requirement to have a physical record of each vote.

A spokeswoman for Pedro Cortes, the secretary of the commonwealth, told the newspaper that Cortes was disappointed the Supreme Court did not hear the appeal.

"On the bright side,'' said Cortes' spokeswoman Leslie Amoros, "the paucity of problems with voting systems over the past few elections, including the recent presidential election, shows that the plaintiffs' fears are grossly exaggerated.''

In a majority decision in April 2007, a court panel threw out the secretary of the commonwealth's arguments and agreed that flaws in the electronic machines might constitute a violation of the state election code.

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