Everyone following the election knows that the state of Pennsylvania is coveted by both candidates in next Tuesday’s election. Well the voters of Pennsylvania just received a huge victory. Yesterday, Federal Judge Harvey S. Bartle III ruled that emergency paper ballots must be made available when fifty percent or more voting machines fail at polling locations across Pennsylvania. Judge Bartle, who is the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, issued the ruling in favor of plaintiffs (who included the NAACP State Conference of Pennsylvania, individual voters who reported long lines and voting machine breakdowns, and the Election Reform Network) who had argued that voters could be disenfranchised by having to wait hours in line due to voting machine breakdowns. The plaintiffs presented testimony at an eight hour hearing yesterday before Judge Bartle that stated voters had faced long lines caused by voting machine problems during the primary election in Pennsylvania in April, particularly in low-income minority neighborhoods.
The legal director for Voter Action and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, John Bonifaz, said, "This is a huge victory for the voters of Pennsylvania. This ruling will ensure that many voters across Pennsylvania will not be disenfranchised when voting machines break down on Election Day."
The lawsuit followed numerous reports during Pennsylvania's April primary of long lines when electronic voting machines became inoperable at their polling sites and that election officials were not providing emergency paper ballots when voting machines malfunctioned. The reports revealed that many voters left their polling locations without casting their votes. It’s clear this is a much needed change for next Tuesday. Congratulations to the state of Pennsylvania!