For three hours Tuesday morning, sales representatives with Election Systems and Software made their pitch in the Lehigh County Government Center, fielding questions about security, services and usability of their latest generation of voting machines. The Omaha, Neb., company is an industry leader in the tools of democracy, making about 55 percent of the machines used in U.S. elections, according to Willie Wesley, an ES&S representative. As part of a demonstration, he fed a stack of ballots into the DS850, a machine that can scan and tabulate 350 paper ballots a minute. The paper whizzed through the chute before being sorted into separate stacks.
Across the room, Tim Benyo, Lehigh County chief clerk of registrations and elections, looked like a gear head settling behind the wheel of an expensive muscle car. “That is very fast,” he said after a chuckle. “I want one.”
Presentations by ES&S and competitor Clear Ballot kicked off three days of voting machine demonstrations from five businesses. Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all 67 counties to replace their voting machines by 2020 with systems that will produce a paper ballot capable of being audited. Tuesday’s showcase attracted government officials from across the state, good government advocates and curious members of the public.