In Mercer County’s efforts to purchase a new voting system, the incumbent got first crack at displaying its wares. Omaha-based ES&S promoted its next-generation election machines for county commissioners and elections officials Thursday at the courthouse. Mercer County has used the ES&S-manufactured iVotronic machines for more than 10 years. Mercer, and Pennsylvania’s other 66 counties, are under an order from Gov. Tom Wolf to adopt voting systems that provide paper records of individual votes cast to alleviate concerns of election tampering in time for the 2020 elections. The iVotronic device does not meet that standard. All of the election options presented Thursday issue paper records of individual votes or read paper ballots, or both. Kevin Kerrigan, a senior sales engineer for ES&S, said the devices are designed to function for the long-term. “You’re going to buy this stuff and expect it to work for at least 10 years,” he said.
The ES&S representatives displayed the DS200, an optical scan machine that counts fill-in-the-oval paper ballots at precinct locations. However, federal law requires provisions for physically challenged voters, and the paper ballots do not comply with that requirement.
Under the Americans with Disabilities mandates, election precincts that used the DS200 to count paper ballots would also have to provide an electronic touchscreen-type device like the iVotronic. ES&S presented its next-generation touchscreen voting machine, the ExpressVote, during the session Thursday.
The ExpressVote is enabled for headphones, and can be operated in the manner of “sip-and-puff” controlled wheelchairs.
When the ExpressVote is used in tandem with the DS200, voters operate the device by inserting a paper card into a slot on the machine, use the touchscreen to record their votes, which are then printed on the card. The voter then inserts the card into the DS200, which tallies the vote.