Past piles of hay outside the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, vendors in a meeting hall hawked their latest secure voting technology. Local officials and activists tapped sleek Android screens in a mock election and saw the results documented on printouts. Yet none of the state-of-the-art equipment displayed will be used for the battleground state’s May 15 primary. That’s despite fears of hacking spawned by Russian meddling in the national election two years ago and the narrow margin of victory in key recent contests from Alabama to Pennsylvania. There’s too little time and money, officials say. U.S. election season is well underway, with Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia all holding primaries on Tuesday. Control of Congress in November’s midterm election may hinge on voters in Pennsylvania, a closely divided state that helped President Donald Trump clinch his 2016 victory. But like several other states, there’s a gaping hole in Pennsylvania’s machinery of democracy: It has some of the oldest, least secure voting technology in the country.
“We want secure elections,” said Jenifer Maslow, a volunteer with a group called Citizens for Better Elections. She came to the fairgrounds in Harrisburg, the state capital, late last month to spend hours trying out new voting equipment. “If a machine breaks down, the poll workers might not realize it for several hours” and “you can’t get those people to come back” to vote.
… Months after intelligence officials testified to Congress that Trump had failed to mobilize the federal government to prevent future attempts to hack the vote, the White House announced that the president met last week with top officials to discuss “efforts to bolster the security of the nation’s election systems.” The statement cited efforts to encourage state and local officials to follow “best practices like using paper ballots.”
Karen Publick, owner of a small business in Bucks County, outside Philadelphia, said she’s long questioned paperless machines. “When you hear that we are under assault, that hacking is possible and it’s a matter of time — of course, we’re worried,” said Publick, who’s an election security campaigner with the volunteer group SAVE Bucks Votes.