Letters to the editor

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Optical scan is best


I am pleased that the PG endorses HR 811 ("Votes That Count," Feb. 13 editorial) but am concerned by your opposition to precinct-counted optical scanners. Voter-verified paper ballots, open code inspections and mandatory audits are essential. Without them, touching the screen amounts to little more than playing the slots.


The iVotronic machines, not optical scanners, are a throwback to the hanging chads. The printers negotiated for by Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato produce a continuous cash-register receipt that is prone to printer jams and fading ink, is difficult to read and can be used to match votes with names. Unlike optical scanners, they are illegal in Pennsylvania. Adding them will not change the fact that the iVotronics machines are more expensive and less accessible to voters with disabilities than optical scan.


Allegheny County has 877,999 registered voters. Just imagine auditing an election by hand counting 877,999 Giant Eagle receipts.


With optical scanners we can audit the election by hand counting a random sample of the ballots and fix errors by feeding the rest into a different scanner.


Hand counting the receipts would be long, expensive, maddening and error prone. Rescanning the ballots would not.


In 2000 fewer than 5 percent of the voters in Sarasota, Fla., lost their votes due to hanging chads. In 2006 15 percent of Sarasota voters lost their votes due to iVotronics.


Optical scanners do not mean hanging chads. When it comes to our democracy we want the most secure, accessible and cost-effective solution, and that is a precinct-based optical scanner.



President Pro-Tem

Squirrel Hill


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