It’s the “right thing” for every Pennsylvania county to buy new voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election to give voters confidence in the balloting, Gov. Tom Wolf said, although he acknowledged that it is a costly proposition. The governor, a Democrat, told The Associated Press on Friday that one of the biggest challenges his administration faces in the matter is helping counties afford an estimated tab of $125 million. It is, he said, “a big, big purchase.” With a large number of voting machines that do not create an auditable paper trail, Pennsylvania is viewed as one of the most vulnerable states after federal authorities say Russian hackers targeted it and at least 20 others during the 2016 presidential election. In April, Wolf gave counties a deadline of 2020 to switch to voting machines that leave a paper trail. His administration has suggested that it could decertify all of the machines in use after 2019’s election.
Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.
The next time Pennsylvanians vote in a presidential election, it will most likely be on updated machines. New voting systems must be in place in every county by the end of 2019, per updated guidelines set by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. “All of the systems you see here have a voter-verifiable, paper ballot,” said Jonathan Marks, at a vendor event Wednesday at Dickinson College where several different brands of machines were set up for the public to try firsthand. “They’ve also been certified to newer security standards; the current equipment in use in Pennsylvania is certified to standards that were actually written in the 1990’s.”
Zane Swanger tapped on the screen of a voting machine to make his elections choices, including a write-in candidate, before printing out his ballot. “OK, so it won’t even let me vote for overvotes, so good.” Swanger was testing out one of the new voting systems that Pennsylvanians could be using in elections starting next year. He’s the director of elections in Mifflin County, and that was third time he’s seen the equipment. The state is holding five voting systems expos, including that one in State College. There are different types of machines for poll workers and the public to try out as counties weigh which ones to get. “I actually made a few mistakes,” Swanger said, after casting his ballot. “I didn’t place it in the correct slot. But, it still accepted the vote properly. It’s things like that I like to test out to see, because I know voters aren’t going to follow the expected way you’re doing it. You have to expect a different situation may occur.”
A top Republican state senator is drafting legislation to prevent Gov. Tom Wolf from forcing Pennsylvania counties to buy new voting machines, a priority for the Democratic governor to ensure the machines are in place in time for the 2020 presidential election. Wolf has promoted the effort as a safeguard against hacking, since four in five Pennsylvania voters use electronic voting machines that lack an auditable paper trail. But Senate Majority Whip, Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, said Wednesday he wants to require legislative approval before Wolf — or any Pennsylvania governor— can force counties to buy new machines and set up a commission to gather public input and develop recommendations.
It’s getting down to crunch time for Pennsylvania’s counties to decide which new voting machines to buy, and how, as Gov. Tom Wolf presses them to switch to voting machines that leave a paper trail as a safeguard against hacking. Wolf’s administration told county officials this week the Democratic governor wants the state to cover at least half the cost. The news came as counties assemble fiscal-year budgets and try out machines that are expected to be included in a state purchasing contract being finalized in the coming weeks. Securing state aid will mean persuading the Republican-controlled Legislature to commit tens of millions of dollars toward what counties estimate will eventually be a $125 million tab.
Patrick McDaniel said elections in the United States have historically been fair and secure, but there are challenges. McDaniel is the Weiss Professor of Information and Communications Technology at Penn State and one of the organizers of the Symposium on Election Security, held Monday at the Penn Stater Conference Center. At a time when the integrity of elections is in the headlines, the conference drew experts and national leaders in election security. McDaniel said the more that can be done by the 2020 election, the better. That includes having voter-verified paper ballots used in all states.
Though the new state legislative session hasn’t technically started, lawmakers are already filing memos for the bills they plan to sponsor. One of the first issues on the agenda has already commanded lawmakers’ attention for nearly a year: redistricting. Last winter, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional map unfairly benefited Republicans and redrew it. The move inflamed a debate that had smoldered for a long time: that the map-drawing process has to be less political. The commonwealth’s congressional maps are passed through state legislation. State House and Senate maps are drawn by a five-member commission, of which four members are elected officials.
Pennsylvania, the 2016 battleground state where many counties refused to conduct a presidential recount, has settled a lawsuit with Green Party candidate Jill Stein and state residents, agreeing to have paper ballot-based voting in place by 2020 and a new audit process to verify vote counts before election results become official by 2022. “It’s a major improvement to have paper ballots,” Stein said Thursday. “That’s really critical. And it’s really important that we be watchdogging this, and that the issues of transparency and accountability be paramount. And [that] we constantly be measuring [what unfolds] against a very high bar for transparency and accountability.” The settlement comes two years after one of the most frustrating post-presidential election efforts to attempt to verify the outcome, where an unconventional candidate trailing in pre-election polls, Republican Donald Trump, had, in fact, won the three closest-margin states, according to the preliminary unofficial results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is settling a vote-counting lawsuit stemming from the 2016 presidential election, in part by affirming a commitment it made previously to push Pennsylvania’s counties to buy voting systems that leave a verifiable paper trail by 2020. Paperwork filed Thursday in federal court in Philadelphia caps a lawsuit that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed in 2016 as she sought recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three states had a history of backing Democrats for president before they were narrowly and unexpectedly won by Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Months ago , Wolf, a Democrat, began pushing counties to upgrade to voting machines that leave a paper trail as a safeguard against hacking by 2020. Four in five Pennsylvania voters use machines that lack an auditable paper trial.
Dr. Jill Stein won a major legal victory in Pennsylvania as state officials agreed to a settlement in her post-2016 election lawsuit. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration guaranteed voting machines with verifiable paper trails, and agreed to an automatic, robust audit in 2022. … Dr. Stein filed the lawsuit in 2016 as she sought recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the three states that decided the election for President Donald Trump. The recounts raised concerns of several ballots that were missing or uncounted, but didn’t change the election results.