HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania counties continue to make great progress transitioning to more secure and accessible voting systems with paper records that voters can verify before casting their ballot.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, along with the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees and many security experts, are calling on Pennsylvania and other states to have voting systems with a paper trail by the 2020 presidential election.
Already 19 counties, or 28 percent, have taken official action toward acquiring new voting systems, either through a vote to purchase or lease a system, or a vote to approve funding.
These counties are Beaver, Berks, Bradford, Butler, Centre, Clinton, Crawford, Greene, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Mercer, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Susquehanna, Venango and Westmoreland.
Almost 80 percent of counties report they have received, selected or are in the process of selecting new voting systems.
An estimated 52 counties have already reported plans to implement the new systems as follows:
- Eight to 10 counties expect to use new voting systems for the May 2019 primary.
- An additional 32 counties are working to implement new systems for the November 2019 election.
- About 11 counties expect to deploy for the April 2020 primary.
- 15 counties remain undecided about their deployment date.
“We are very pleased that more than a quarter of the commonwealth’s counties have already taken steps to acquire their new voting systems, and more than three-quarters have plans to implement their new systems,” Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said.
“County officials continue to demonstrate how committed they are to acquiring voting systems that best meet their voters’ needs and provide the most secure, auditable and accessible voting systems to all Pennsylvanians.”
In April of 2018, the Department of State informed counties they must select new voting systems that provide a paper record, meet 21st-century standards of security and accessibility, and can be more thoroughly audited than current systems allow.
Counties must choose their new voting systems by Dec. 31, 2019, and implement them no later than the 2020 primary election.
In Pennsylvania, every voting system and paper ballot must include plain text that voters can read to verify their choices before casting their ballot.
Election officials will also use the plain text to perform pre-election testing and post-election audits and recounts.
Gov. Tom 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.
The governor has already committed $14.15 million in federal and state funding to counties for new voting systems.
The Department of State will continue to pursue more federal assistance and other funding sources to assist counties in paying for their new voting systems.
The department also has provided a statewide purchasing contract that counties can use to negotiate their best deal, while including specifics that will best meet their needs. Bids from five vendors have been approved under the contract.
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.
Four new voting systems are certified under the state’s new security and accessibility standards. A fifth voting system has successfully completed state and federal testing and official certification will be released shortly. A sixth system is nearing the conclusion of its certification testing.