Philadelphia’s three city commissioners, who run local elections, may announce the selection of a new voting system as soon as Wednesday, and it may leave some disappointed. “We’re worried the city commissioners are going to pick a voting system that is not only very expensive, but not a good system for security,” said Rich Garella of the group Citizens for Better Elections. “It has poor access for disabled people. It’s a bad choice.” The state is requiring all counties to get new voting machines this year that generate paper ballot backups. City commissioners are mum about what kind of voting system they might recommend at their Wednesday meeting, but Garella and State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the city’s selection process seems tilted toward a particular system and a single vendor. … That vendor is Omaha-based Election Systems & Software, known as ES&S, the largest manufacturer of voting systems in the country. The ES&S Express Vote XL system is the only one sold in the U.S. that shows voters all candidates for all races on one electronic screen.
Philadelphia has used “full-face” voting systems for decades, and the request for proposals says the city is looking for a system with the “ability to provide a ballot face and style that accommodates the City’s large candidate pool and offers a familiar look and feel, as well as ease of use, to voters.”
Garella and representatives of community and activist groups plan a rally Tuesday to demonstrate support for hand-marked paper ballots. With that approach, voters note their choices with pens, then send the ballots into a scanner for counting.
Several vendors can provide hand-marked ballot systems, but only ES&S offers the “full-face” electronic ballot.