Federal funding slated for an upgrade of Pennsylvania’s voting machines might fall far short of what’s needed, forcing counties to take on the financial burden. The state is expected to get $13.5 million to upgrade machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, that would only be enough to cover 17 to 27 percent of the cost to replace Pennsylvania’s machines with optical scan voting systems, which leave paper trails. The commonwealth requested last week that each county have these machines — which cybersecurity experts say are an important step in preventing election meddling — by 2020, and preferably in time for the November 2019 election.
A Philadelphia Inquirer report last month revealed that 50 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, including Allegheny, use voting machines that leave no paper records.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the $13.5 million — which is part of $380 million set aside by Congress to help with election security — is “much lower than it needs to be” compared to the actual cost of upgrading the systems statewide.
“Maybe for some counties that are in real need, meaning the machines are breaking down and having those kinds of issues, for some of the smaller counties, it might be helpful,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “But if you’re going to try to do it on a statewide basis, it just won’t be nearly enough.”