New Voting Machines

Willie Wesley Jr., director of business development for Election Systems & Software, discusses the company's voting machines at the Holland Union Building at Dickinson College.

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Counties given third option for new voting machines

In April, the Pennsylvania Department of State informed counties that they must have voting machines that provide a paper record of each vote as a matter of election integrity.

Paper ballots provide for more accurate and reliable post-election audits compared to direct recording electronic voting machines, like those used in Cumberland County, according to the Department of State.

Gov. Tom Wolf earmarked $13.5 million in federal funds to help counties buy compliant machines, and the state is required to provide a 5 percent match to those funds, leaving more than $14 million available to counties.

The Wolf administration said it wants new machines to be in place by the May 2020 primary.

The change to paper records does not necessarily mean voters will not use electronic touch screens to select their candidates.

As Sentinel reporter Zachary Hoopes explained in December, if a county chooses one of the machines certified by the state that utilizes a touch screen, voters will select candidates on the computer and be given a paper printout of their selection, which will then be submitted into another machine for counting.

In December, five vendors had their machines on display at Dickinson College as part of the roll out of the state’s new rules.

At the time, only two of those machines were certified by the state and found in compliance with the new guidelines.

Since then, a third vendor has received approval from the state.

To date, two machines from Unisyn and one machine for the company ES&S have been certified.

Two other machines are undergoing certification and one is expected to be submitted for testing in January, according to the Department of State.

Systems must meet updated state security and accessibility standards and be certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission to receive Pennsylvania certification, according to the Department of State.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.