Judge widens backup paper ballots provision in Pa.By Jane Roh Philadelphia News Examiner Oct 29 2008
A federal judge has ruled that Pennsylvania must make emergency paper ballots available to voters on Election Day if 50 percent or more of voting machines fail.
"Even in the best of circumstances, voters can expect and must tolerate more delay than usual on November 4," Judge Harvey Bartle III of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, wrote. "Nonetheless, we would be blind to reality if we did not recognize that many individuals have a limited window of opportunity to go to the polls due to their jobs, child care and family responsibilities, or other weighty commitments. Life does not stop on election day. Many must vote early or in the evening if they are to vote at all."
Bartle took note of the defendants' argument that the suit, filed just 12 days before Election Day, could throw the system into chaos. Joseph Passarella, director of voting services in Montgomery County, testified yesterday, "It would be a huge mistake to do this late in the game." He told the judge that poll workers aren't full-time experts and that he didn't "want to confuse them any more than they already are."
At the same time, Passarella testified that an infrastructure was in place to quickly remedy machine failure and that poll workers were trained to follow certain instructions during mishaps. Also at issue was the definition of failure.
"If someone calls in and a machine is down for 10 minutes, are we supposed to provide emergency ballots for that 10 minutes? It makes no sense," Passarella said.