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09/12/2019

Secretary of State Presents Lehigh County Commissioners with Funding for New Voting System

Allentown, PA — Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar presented the Lehigh County Commissioners with a $380,868 check today to help pay for the county's new voting system.

The check is part of $14.15 million in federal funding and a state match that Gov. Tom Wolf set aside in 2018 for distribution to counties for new voting systems. Additionally, the governor recently announced the commonwealth is working to issue a bond for up to $90 million to reimburse counties for 60 percent of their actual costs for the new voting systems.

"I am pleased to present this check to the commissioners for the new voting system that Lehigh County voters will use for the first time in the Nov. 5 municipal election," Secretary Boockvar said. "Thanks to the commissioners' leadership, county residents can feel confident that every vote will be accurately counted and securely protected by the latest election technology. These new systems also provide greater accessibility for voters with disabilities."

The commissioners and county election officials took the opportunity to give Secretary Boockvar a personal demonstration of their new ES&S EVS 6.0.2.1 voting system.  

In April 2018, the Department of State informed counties they must select by the end of 2019 new voting systems that provide a paper record voters will verify before casting their ballot. These new systems -- which will deliver enhanced, state-of-the-art security and more accurate and reliable post-election audits -- must be implemented no later than the 2020 primary.

Every voting system and paper ballot must include plain text that voters can read to confirm their choices. Election officials will also use the plain text to perform pre-election testing and post-election audits and recounts.

At least 49 counties, or 73 percent, have taken official action toward purchases or leases of new voting systems. At least 53 counties, or about 80 percent, will be using paper ballots in the November election, including 47 counties with new voting systems and six counties that have been using paper ballots.

"It is essential to our democracy that we have secure elections but, unfortunately, they come with a price.  Thanks to Governor Wolf, the taxpayers of Lehigh County won't have to shoulder that burden alone," County Commissioner Amy Zanelli said. "Our new machines are a physical manifestation of our commitment to election security, integrity and the voice of voters here in Lehigh County."

Counties can use a statewide purchasing contract to cut through red tape and negotiate the best deal with voting system vendors. The department also is investigating and pursuing other funding options, including additional federal aid.

The Trump Administration's Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, and the overwhelming majority of security, technology, and elections experts are urging states, in the interest of election security, to switch to new systems that produce paper records.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621

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