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Election integrity skeptics speak before Allegheny County Board of Elections

The Allegheny County Board of Elections heard public comments Tuesday from 10 people who expressed skepticism and criticism of election integrity and security.Watch the report from the county courthouse: Click the video player above.”We cannot simply take your word like children without question. Only Jesus merits that kind of blind trust,” Rosalind Daily, of Monroeville, told the board.Another speaker spoke of concerns he has with the FBI.”G-men were my heroes when I grew up. Now, I see the FBI as part of the election integrity problem, not acting as a reliable partner of the American voter. You can and should do something about the election integrity,” said William Jasper, of Leetsdale.Another speaker questioned voting machines and equipment.”Voting machines must go because their hardware is vulnerable. Voting machines are basically computers, and most if not all computer hardware is made in China,” said Shirley Ewart, of Monroeville.She and some others who spoke suggested, without evidence, that China had the capability via hardware or software to compromise election integrity.A spokesperson for Allegheny County noted to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Tuesday evening that Allegheny County “doesn’t have voting machines” but instead uses scanners to read paper ballots filled out by voters. Director of Communications Amie Downs says Allegheny County uses high-speed scanners for mail-in and absentee ballots and precinct-level scanners for in-person voting. She said the scanners themselves do not tabulate votes but the scanned data is tabulated using hardware that converts the data from from the paper ballots filled out by voters to select candidates. Downs says that information “then is uploaded using system software to the results page.”The PA Department of State website also explains Allegheny County’s voting system, saying “Most voters in Allegheny County will vote using a hand-marked paper ballot. Some voters will use the ES&S ExpressVote 2.1 to mark their ballot. All voters will use the DS 200 Precinct Scanner to cast their completed ballot.”The elections board directed county elections staff to follow up with those who testified. Board members expressed respect for their questions but urged them to provide specific details of allegations of election fraud for authorities to investigate.”Obviously, we’re concerned any time the public brings a concern to us,” said Sam DeMarco, county elections board member told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “Because we won’t be satisfied until 100 percent of the people out there feel confident and can trust in their elections.”That being said… I need specific information. If someone believes that something took place, please tell us so that we can look into it. We care about every single concern that someone has. We want to address it, but we need their help in doing so.”DeMarco is also the Republican at-large member of County Council and chair of the Allegheny County Republican Committee.”I think there’s also a lack of understanding by much of the public on how elections are conducted,” he said.Bethany Hallam, Allegheny County Elections Board member, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that she hasn’t seen “anything that warrants any skepticism about the results of any of our elections.”But at the same time, I think people that do have concerns have every right to have their concerns addressed so they can have confidence moving forward in elections that I have in them,” said Hallam, who is also the Democratic at-large member of the county council.Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, a Democrat, is the third member of the Board of Elections. He did not comment on the testimony after the meeting.

The Allegheny County Board of Elections heard public comments Tuesday from 10 people who expressed skepticism and criticism of election integrity and security.

Watch the report from the county courthouse: Click the video player above.

“We cannot simply take your word like children without question. Only Jesus merits that kind of blind trust,” Rosalind Daily, of Monroeville, told the board.

Another speaker spoke of concerns he has with the FBI.

“G-men were my heroes when I grew up. Now, I see the FBI as part of the election integrity problem, not acting as a reliable partner of the American voter. You can and should do something about the election integrity,” said William Jasper, of Leetsdale.

Another speaker questioned voting machines and equipment.

“Voting machines must go because their hardware is vulnerable. Voting machines are basically computers, and most if not all computer hardware is made in China,” said Shirley Ewart, of Monroeville.

She and some others who spoke suggested, without evidence, that China had the capability via hardware or software to compromise election integrity.

A spokesperson for Allegheny County noted to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Tuesday evening that Allegheny County “doesn’t have voting machines” but instead uses scanners to read paper ballots filled out by voters. Director of Communications Amie Downs says Allegheny County uses high-speed scanners for mail-in and absentee ballots and precinct-level scanners for in-person voting. She said the scanners themselves do not tabulate votes but the scanned data is tabulated using hardware that converts the data from from the paper ballots filled out by voters to select candidates. Downs says that information “then is uploaded using system software to the results page.”

The PA Department of State website also explains Allegheny County’s voting system, saying “Most voters in Allegheny County will vote using a hand-marked paper ballot. Some voters will use the ES&S ExpressVote 2.1 to mark their ballot. All voters will use the DS 200 Precinct Scanner to cast their completed ballot.”

The elections board directed county elections staff to follow up with those who testified. Board members expressed respect for their questions but urged them to provide specific details of allegations of election fraud for authorities to investigate.

“Obviously, we’re concerned any time the public brings a concern to us,” said Sam DeMarco, county elections board member told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “Because we won’t be satisfied until 100 percent of the people out there feel confident and can trust in their elections.

“That being said… I need specific information. If someone believes that something took place, please tell us so that we can look into it. We care about every single concern that someone has. We want to address it, but we need their help in doing so.”

DeMarco is also the Republican at-large member of County Council and chair of the Allegheny County Republican Committee.

“I think there’s also a lack of understanding by much of the public on how elections are conducted,” he said.

Bethany Hallam, Allegheny County Elections Board member, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that she hasn’t seen “anything that warrants any skepticism about the results of any of our elections.

“But at the same time, I think people that do have concerns have every right to have their concerns addressed so they can have confidence moving forward in elections that I have in them,” said Hallam, who is also the Democratic at-large member of the county council.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, a Democrat, is the third member of the Board of Elections. He did not comment on the testimony after the meeting.



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