Imagine depending on a 12-year-old cellphone or a 15-year-old computer. No one would fault you for seeking to replace that outdated equipment with newer, technologically superior models. Many counties in the commonwealth own voting systems that old or even older. Fortunately, voting machines remain reliable longer than cellphones and laptops. Also, Pennsylvania employs a host of measures — such as comprehensive monitoring and network isolation — to maintain their security. With the cooperation of law enforcement and cybersecurity partners, we know our elections will be run in a safe, secure way this year. But as our voting machines approach the end of their usable life, we must think and plan ahead now. We are constantly reminded that worldwide cybersecurity threats are growing and hackers have become increasingly sophisticated. Modernizing Pennsylvania’s election infrastructure is the responsible thing to do so our citizens can feel confident that their votes are accurately and securely recorded.
That’s why the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections in the commonwealth, informed counties on April 12 that they need to have voter-verifiable paper record voting systems selected no later than Dec. 31, 2019, and preferably in place by the November 2019 general election.
A paper ballot, whether marked by hand or marked with assistive technology, will allow for a more complete audit of results. It will also provide a more robust fail-safe measure against voting machine malfunction and will give voters a buffer against rhetoric that their votes can be “rigged.”