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Group provides petitions to seek referendum to remove Lycoming County voting machines

With over 3,000 signatures in hand, members of the Audit the Vote PA group in Lycoming County, handed over petitions to the Election Board requesting that a referendum be placed on the ballot in November to remove electronic voting machines from the election process in the county.

Other issues were also addressed by both the group and the Director of Voter Services Forrest Lehman at the meeting this week.

“I spoke about the previous meetings, reviewed the policy demands these individuals have made to the Board of Elections and provided my recommendations. Those recommendations were based on the best available evidence,” said Lehman. “Part of it was auditing the 2020 election results again.”

The group had previously provided a list of 10 demands to the county commissioners who comprise the election board.

“I tried to address all those points. More of the discussion was around the request to recount the 2020 election, to discontinue the use of voting equipment, audit the election, all of those things got more of the attention. They had made other requests as well regarding consolidation of precincts, regarding posting results in polling places, auditing ballot images, preserving records, cleaning up voter rolls, some things like that,” Lehman said.

The members of Audit the Vote PA submitted petitions with over 3,000 signatures requesting a discontinuation of voting equipment in the county and requesting to place a question on the ballot so that the voters could decide if that was what they wanted.

Lehman said it was too early in the process to offer a legal conclusion whether the petitioners, having secured the needed signatures, could have the referendum placed on the ballot without the approval of the commissioners.

“There were a lot of opinions in the room this morning, but ultimately the county will need to review and respond according to the election code and obviously that’s based on the advice of counsel,” Lehman said.

Lehman did indicate that the relevant statute in the election code “would suggest that is a sufficient number of signatures,” referring to the petitions that were submitted.

“Again, it was only just filed and it will need to be reviewed,” Lehman reiterated.

The county spent over a million dollars on the equipment which the group is seeking to have taken out of the voting process.

“We would be out that investment. We would have no way to uniformly define ballots. You would be counting ballots by hand instead of counting them by machine,” Lehman said.

“It would be an interesting question as to how you would provide ballots for voters with disabilities. It would be an interesting question how you would provide election results. Without a voting system how would you provide results reports,” he added.

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