Advocates of paper ballots cheered the news late Tuesday that the Philadelphia city commissioners have delayed their selection of new voting machines, but found themselves frustrated Wednesday when officials said they had no new information to provide. “The only thing we know now is that our message, to some degree, has been heard, otherwise I do believe that we would have gotten a decision today and probably not the one that would have been most appropriate and prudent,” said Stephen Strahs, one of a core group of activists who have shown up for meetings and held rallies. “But where this goes from here, I have no idea. My hope is that there’s going to be a process of reconsideration.” Strahs and a handful of others attended a commissioners meeting Wednesday — for which a decisive vote had been scheduled — but left without any clarity on a process they say has been opaque. The commissioners did not say anything about the machines when pressed by the activists on the decision timeline.
For weeks, the activists have pushed for the commissioners to choose a system in which voters fill out a paper ballot and then scan it. That kind of system is more secure and easier to use, they say, than a touchscreen system that would create a paper trail by printing out a list after voters make their selections.
In recent days, those calls have attracted the attention of city and state watchdogs who said the machine replacement process has moved too quickly and been too opaque.
Late Tuesday, the commissioners announced they would not vote on a new system at Wednesday’s meeting because a confidential selection committee had not yet sent them its final recommendations.