Harrisburg, PA – With a vote by city commissioners Wednesday, Philadelphia became the latest Pennsylvania county to select a new voting system under updated standards for security, auditability and accessibility.
Also this week, Montgomery County accepted delivery and began acceptance testing of its new system which it is planning to implement in the May 21 primary election.
“County commissioners and election directors from rural and urban counties, large and small, are demonstrating remarkable leadership and commitment to ensuring that all voters will be voting on systems with voter-verifiable paper ballots and meeting the highest standards of security and accessibility by 2020,” Governor Tom Wolf said.
In April 2018, the Department of State informed counties they must select new voting systems that provide a paper record and meet 21st-century standards of security, auditability and accessibility no later than Dec. 31, 2019, and preferably have a system in place by the general election on November 5, 2019.
Governor Wolf has proposed a minimum of $15 million in state funding each year for the next five years, for a combined total of at least $75 million to assist counties in acquiring the new systems.
“With the developments in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties alone, more than 1.6 million Pennsylvania voters are set to cast their ballots on the most secure and accessible voting systems available,” Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “I can’t say enough about how diligent the counties have been in addressing this vital infrastructure upgrade. County officials across the commonwealth are doing the research, listening to their voters, and making the decisions that need to be made to ensure that our elections will continue to be carried out with accuracy, security and integrity.”
In approving the purchase of Election Systems & Software’s Express Vote XL, the Philadelphia commissioners said they intend to have the system implemented for the November election. The county currently has nearly 1,047,000 registered voters and 1,692 precincts.
“Today is a momentous day,” City Commissioner Chair Lisa Deeley said Wednesday. “Today, we voted to give the city’s voters a secure and resilient system with an auditable voter-verifiable paper ballot. We look forward to the next steps, which are educating our poll workers and voters.”
In Montgomery County, election officials in December 2018 approved the purchase of its new voting system, Dominion Voting Systems’ Democracy Suite. The county has 556,000 voters and 433 precincts.
“We are extremely pleased to accept delivery of our new voter-verifiable paper balloting system and look forward to introducing it to our voters in time for the upcoming May 21st primary election,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “The system’s reliance on a simple voter-marked paper ballot meets all state and federal security requirements and will give Montgomery County voters the highest degree of confidence in our election process.”
There are now at least 11 counties that have approved purchases or leases of new voting systems throughout the commonwealth. Others that have approved purchases or leases include: Berks, Bradford, Centre, Crawford, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Pike, and Susquehanna counties. Multiple other counties have approved funding for new voting systems but haven’t yet decided which specific system is the best fit for their voters.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, along with the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees and many security experts have called on all state and local election officials to make certain that by the 2020 presidential election every American votes on a ballot that can be checked and verified by the voter and that can be audited by election officials.
Under the Pennsylvania Election Code, every county must employ voting systems that are certified by both the federal Election Assistance Commission and the secretary of the commonwealth. There are four voting systems certified under the new security and accessibility standards, with another two systems currently in certification testing.
In the November 2018 election, Susquehanna County became the first county to implement its new system, the Unisyn Voting Solutions OpenElect.
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