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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

NAACP Demands Backup|Paper Ballots In Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The NAACP demands that Pennsylvania provide paper ballots on Nov. 4, to be used in case electronic voting machines fail or malfunction, which the NAACP expects. The NAACP claims the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth's order "directing the use of emergency paper ballots only when all of the voting machines in a precinct fail is nothing short of perverse."

The complaint states: "In Pennsylvania this year, an unprecedented interest in voting, a record number of newly registered voters, and a well-established history of widespread electronic voting machine failures have converged to create a perfect storm that, left unaddressed, unquestionably will result in the disenfranchisement of substantial numbers of citizens. Fortunately, the remedy for this grave threat to the franchise is simple and places only the slightest of burdens on the State: the provision of emergency paper ballots when half or more of the voting machines in any precinct simultaneously fail.

"In the face of the extraordinary stresses that our election apparatus will face this year, the new rule promulgated by the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth directing the use of emergency paper ballots only when all of the voting machines in a precinct fail is nothing short of perverse. It rests on the specious proposition that remedial action is only required in the most dire of circumstances - when no machines work at all - and that no remedy whatsoever is appropriate where, as here, the record demonstrated an overwhelming likelihood that substantial numbers of precincts will have half or more - but not all - of their electronic voting machines fail."

The NAACP adds that "the Secretary is playing with fire to a constitutionally intolerable degree. ... Given the certainty that electronic voting machines will fail - recognized by the state's own certification expert - and given the dramatic impact that every failure has on the affected precinct - because the vast majority of precincts have no more than two or, at most, three machines - this Court should direct the Secretary of the Commonwealth to ensure that local election officials provide voters with paper ballots of 50% or more of the voting machines in a precinct become inoperable."

The NAACP's lead counsel is Michael Churchill with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

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