The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 8, 2006

GOP official reports glitches

The polls weren’t even closed yet Tuesday, but state GOP Chairman Robert Gleason Jr. already was hinting that reported voting machine glitches might lead to some major post-election problems.

“There may be some challenges down the road,” he said, adding that his staff is recording some of the problems with names and numbers, in case affidavits are in order.

Gleason said the state’s Republican headquarters had been fielding calls about problems that extended beyond machines that wouldn’t work or cards that were jammed.

In Cambria County and a few others statewide, he said, workers reported that some voters pushed the touch-screen button for one candidate and got the another candidate. Or, voters tried to vote a straight ticket and had problems. Cambria County’s machines have a button for final confirmation.

“A lot of people are in a hurry,” Gleason said. “You touch the buttons and you think you’re done.”

State election officials said late Tuesday they had received no reports of any such malfunctions.

Abe Amoros, Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman, said Republicans were attempting to use alleged malfunctions for political gain.

“It boils down to the Republican Party losing its grip on power in Pennsylvania,” Amoros said Tuesday, about an hour before the 8 p.m. poll closing.

He acknowledged he had heard reports of machines registering votes for the wrong candidate. But Amoros said those problems were corrected quickly.

“They were addressed responsibly and efficiently,” he said, adding that the Republicans’ accusations were an “insult to the people who are doing a remarkable job” maintaining the machines.

In Somerset County, officials reported a few technical problems.

Delays were minimal, county Commissioner Jim Marker said.

“Our rovers are out in force and election boards have been trained,” he said.

Cambria County Elections Supervisor Fred Smith downplayed reported problems with the county’s new touch-screen electronic ballots.

“We did have some procedural problems, and for a couple of units we had to send a technician out for a low battery or something like that,” Smith said.

“But I think that the elections boards are doing an outstanding job,” he said.

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