December 29, 2005 -- In response to the reported "10-County Coalition" allegedly formed by our elected and appointed county officials to negotiate with voting system vendors and other parties to purchase electronic voting machines with money available under the Help America Vote Act, citizens of Westmoreland, Allegheny, Butler, Washington, Beaver, Mercer, and other Western Pennsylvania counties held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the formation of 10-County Citizens' Coalition For Voter Verified Paper Ballots.

The the following statement was made at the announcement in Court House Square in Greensburg immediately following the Westmoreland County Commissioners meeting where officials voted unanimously to purchase paperless iVotronic voting machines from ES & S of Nebraska.

Formation of the 10-County Citizens' Coalition For Voter Verified Paper Ballots:

With the formation of this coalition we call for all voting systems chosen by our officials and purchased by our counties to have the ability to produce a full size, high-quality, human readable and recountable voter verified paper record or ballot.

We request that our counties cooperate with voters and citizens' groups and that officials utilize the assistance and input of knowledgeable people in our communities to choose accessible, accurate, auditable, and affordable voting systems.

We demand that all transactions and negotiations for voting systems be done in an open and transparent manner by our counties.

We call for our counties and communities to join Allegheny County Council and Pittsburgh City Council to pass motions or resolutions in support of voter verified paper records with audits and in support of the bills HB 2000 / SB 977 currently pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

We support these bipartisan bills HB 2000 and SB 977, that now have over one-fourth of the Pennsylvania House and one-fourth of the Pennsylvania Senate as co-sponsors. These bills will provide Pennsylvanians the protection of voter verified paper records, will make the voter verified paper the official record in case of discrepancy, audit or recount, and will require a 5% random audit of all elections.

We call on our Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to fully support and co-sponsor the federal bill HR 550 for voter verified paper records with random manual audits.

Let us never see a repeat of what happened in Beaver and Mercer counties where a paperless touchscreen machine lost an estimated 10,000 of our precious votes in the November, 2004 election.

Our Western Pennsylvania Citizens' Coalition for Voter Verified Paper Ballot acknowledges support from citizens in Chester, Bucks, Cumberland, Philadelphia, Wyoming, Centre, Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Montgomery, and many other counties in this state. We are all working for the same goal.

Pennsylvania citizens want to be able to verify, audit, and protect our votes ­ on a full size, readable sheet of paper.

County officials be advised: the days of expecting us to vote on whatever you choose to put in front of us are over forever. We are paying attention.