Pennsylvania

Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: The paper chase: On the trail of new voting machines | Jodine Mayberry/Delco Times

Dolores Shelton brought the house down. “The younger generation came out of the womb knowing how to do this,” the longtime Chester activist and poll worker said, jabbing the air as if she were navigating a cellphone. “Some of us have been out (of the womb) a long time so you need to keep things simple. It’s hard enough to get people to come out and vote.” And what she said next brought applause, cheers and nearly a standing ovation at Tuesday afternoon’s public forum on voting machines. “We need more help. We used to work for nothing. Now when you ask someone to work the polls, the first thing they say is ‘How much does it pay?’” (Hint: not enough.) It was amazing that County Council and the election board managed to get more than 200 people – standing room only in the County Council meeting room – to come out at 4 o’clock on a weekday afternoon for a discussion of voting machines. Who knew anybody cared that much about what kind of machine the county chooses to replace our current touch screen system, especially since the ones being offered are so similar?

Full Article: Jodine Mayberry: The paper chase: On the trail of new voting machines | Opinion | delcotimes.com.

Pennsylvania: Despite GOP objections, Wolf moves to upgrade voting machines | Katie Meyer/WITF

Governor Tom Wolf is taking matters into his own hands when it comes to funding upgrades for Pennsylvania’s voting machines. The move comes after he vetoed a funding bill the GOP-controlled legislature sent him during state budget negotiations. It would have given counties $90 million to upgrade machines — about 60 percent of the up-front cost. But it also had strings attached; most crucially, an election code change that eliminated automatic straight-ticket voting. Democrats balked, saying it might depress voter turnout. Wolf now plans to get the $90 million without add-ons by issuing a bond through the state’s Economic Development Financing Authority. He said as far as he knows, it’s allowed as long as the agency’s board authorizes it. “I’m not a lawyer,” he said when asked about the specific law that authorizes such an action. “The point that I think everybody in this building recognizes is that we’ve got to support the counties. This cannot be an unfunded mandate.” Wolf’s office later clarified, they interpret the Pennsylvania EDFA has having broad authority to provide funding in order to promote things like health, safety, economic activity, and general welfare for people in the commonwealth. Voting machine funding, they said, fits that mission.

Full Article: Despite GOP objections, Wolf moves to upgrade voting machines - WHYY.

Pennsylvania: Wolf orders $90M bond issue to help counties buy voting machines | The Intelligencer

Gov. Tom Wolf is moving to borrow up to $90 million to help Pennsylvania’s counties pay for new voting machines ahead of 2020′s election, announcing the step Tuesday after a dispute between the Democrat and the Republican-controlled Legislature doomed funding legislation last week. The bond issue would reimburse each county for 60% of their cost, according to Wolf’s administration, which provided little detail about the financing it will seek or the timeline for the move. Wolf began pressing counties last year to replace their voting machines with ones that provide verified paper ballots before 2020 after federal authorities warned Pennsylvania and at least 20 other states that Russian hackers targeted them during 2016′s presidential election. That prompted a wide range of election integrity advocates and experts to urge states to switch to machines that produce an auditable paper trail.

Full Article: Wolf orders $90M bond issue to help counties buy voting machines - News - The Intelligencer - Doylestown, PA.

Pennsylvania: Rep. Gene DiGirolamo to introduce new $90M voting machine bill | Anthony DiMattia/Bucks County Courier Times

State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo on Monday announced plans to introduce legislation to help counties buy new voting machines only days after Pennsylvania’s governor vetoed a similar bill passed by the Senate. The proposed legislation would float up to $90 million in state bonds to reimburse counties about 60% of the more than $100 million estimated to replace voting machines across the state. “Our counties are in the midst of replacing voting machines. They are working diligently, within a short time frame, to make the right choices for their respective voters,” DiGirolamo, R-18, of Bensalem, said in a statement. “This is a costly endeavor, and we must take steps to provide needed funding.” On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed legislation that carried $90 million to help counties buy new voting machines. The bill also ordered changes to election laws that the Democrat said wouldn’t help improve voting security or access, such as eliminating the straight-party ticket voting option on ballots. Wolf said eliminating it could lead to voter confusion and longer lines at polls, while Democrats had argued that it is designed to benefit down-ballot Republican candidates. DiGirolamo said he is hopeful Wolf will support the legislation since it does not include the elimination of straight-party voting.

Full Article: Rep. Gene DiGirolamo to introduce new $90M voting machine bill - News - Bucks County Courier Times - Levittown, PA.

Pennsylvania: Despite impasse over state funding, Pennsylvania counties are plunging forward on voting machine upgrades | Charles Thompson/PennLive

Most Central Pennsylvania counties are taking a damn the veto, full speed ahead approach to replacing voting machines in advance of the 2020 presidential election cycle. They are acting now, and then hoping Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will eventually agree on a plan to reimburse them for up to 60 percent of the cost of the new equipment designed to build more back-ups into Pennsylvania elections.\ “We’re still going ahead and getting the machines, and we will have them in operation as mandated by April of 2020,” said Vince DeFilippo, chairman of the Cumberland County board of commissioners. Cumberland’s Board of Elections recommended a new system for purchase in late June. It’s position was the overwhelming consensus from a check of midstate counties Monday.\ Wolf, who put the counties on this track in a 2018 lawsuit settlement, had attempted to strike a deal with legislative leaders for a $90 million bond issue intended to reimburse counties for close to 60 percent of their costs. But that deal fell apart as the bill became enmeshed in other election reform issues – including a provision to abolish straight-party balloting – that raised the ire of many Democratic lawmakers who argued it could discourage voting by the disabled, people with low literacy skills, or even casual voters who could be turned off by rush hour lines.

Full Article: Despite impasse over state funding, Pennsylvania counties are plunging forward on voting machine upgrades - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Governor vetoes bill to help counties pay for required upgrade of voting machines | Charles Thompson/PennLive

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would have provided $90 million in state funding to Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to share the cost of a wholesale upgrade of voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. Wolf supported the funding measure, and said he remains committed to providing state funding to ease the estimated $150 million financial burden on county governments going forward. But he said he was vetoing the bill largely because of an attached provision that would have abolished the century-old practice of permitting voters to cast a ballot for every candidate from one party through a single button. He also cited his objections to language inserted in the bill that would impose legislative review on any future action by the Department of State – which oversees the administration of elections statewide – to decertify Pennsylvania’s voting machines en masse. Wolf said that provision would unnecessarily bind the hands of future governors who might need to act quickly in the event of election security issues. Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said that as a practical matter, he expects most counties to press forward with their plans to replace or upgrade their existing systems. “The hard part is we are obligated (by a legal settlement) to do it by next April,” Hill said, “and neither the proposed legislation or the veto changes that calendar for us.” Most counties, Hill added, are expected to have new machines in place by this fall.

Full Article: Gov. Wolf vetoes bill to help counties pay for required upgrade of voting machines - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Voting machines bill vetoed in fight over election changes | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Pennsylvania’s governor vetoed legislation Friday that carried $90 million to help counties in the state buy new voting machines before the 2020 presidential election, but the bill also ordered changes to election laws that the Democrat said wouldn’t help improve voting security or access. In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf said he remained committed to helping counties pay for voting machines, but he did not say how he might come up with the money without approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature. Wolf began pressing counties last year to replace their voting machines after federal authorities warned Pennsylvania and at least 20 other states that Russian hackers targeted them during 2016’s presidential election. More than half of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have moved to replace their voting systems to the kind that Wolf wanted: systems that include voter-verifiable paper backups that are widely embraced by election integrity advocates and computer scientists. Wolf’s administration has warned lawmakers that failing to replace its roughly 25,000 voting machines by next year’s election could leave Pennsylvania as the only state without voter-verifiable paper systems, and certainly the only presidential swing state in that position. “National security and cybersecurity experts, including the Trump administration, are urging Pennsylvania and other states to have new voting systems with advanced security and a paper trail,” Wolf said in the statement.

Full Article: Voting machines bill vetoed in fight over election changes - The Washington Post.

Pennsylvania: Politics of elections snares Pennsylvania voting-machine aid | Marc Levy/The Associated Press

The fate of legislation to help Pennsylvania’s counties afford new voting machines before next year’s election is in doubt after getting wrapped up in the politics of voting and election laws. Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday that he will decide later in the week whether to sign or veto the bill, despite the Democrat’s support for the $90 million it carries in borrowing authority to help counties pay for new machines. Hours before the bill passed the Republican-controlled Legislature last week, Republicans unveiled the borrowing provision and attached it to a hodge-podge of changes to election laws. One of those provisions eliminates the single ballot option for voters to select a straight-party ticket in elections, prompting calls from Democrats to veto it. Democrats said it came out of the blue and had never been studied by the committee. Republicans characterized the change as a bipartisan effort to encourage voters to vote for candidates, not parties. Democrats scrambled to see if Wolf had supported it and decried it as a setback to voting access and the civil rights of minorities that would effectively help down-ballot Republican candidates. It is among a couple things in the bill that Wolf said he didn’t like.

Full Article: Politics of elections snares Pennsylvania voting-machine aid | News | witf.org.

Pennsylvania: House plans funding for voting machine bill, with conditions | Katie Meyer/WITF

Lawmakers are on track to give Democratic Governor Tom Wolf even more money than he asked for to fund voting machine improvements. However, it will come with conditions. Many of Pennsylvania’s voting machines only record votes electronically. That makes it almost impossible to double-check tallies, and led to the commonwealth settling a lawsuit last year that accused it of being susceptible to election tampering. There’s no evidence tampering happened. But Governor Wolf promised to update the machines by 2020 anyway. It’s an expensive undertaking, so in his budget proposal earlier this year, he asked the legislature to give counties $75 million over five years to help pay for it. Republicans have been on the fence about whether all the machines need upgrades. But GOP Appropriations Committee Chair Stan Saylor said Wednesday, his caucus has decided to back a bill that gives counties $90 million — enough to cover up to 60 percent of the cost of updating the machines.

Full Article: Pa. House plans funding for voting machine bill, with conditions.

Pennsylvania: House considers $90M for voting machines, end to straight-party voting | Jan Murphy/PennLive

The state House of Representatives is poised to vote on Thursday on a bill that calls for the state to borrow up to $90 million to help counties defray the cost of buying new voting machines. The bill, which has the state picking up 60 percent of a county’s tab, also includes some election reforms. The most significant reform: the bill would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option in general elections. Senate Appropriations Committtee Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, said the majority Republicans have not yet discussed the legislation as a caucus and haven’t committed to it. Providing the funding to help cover the cost of voting machine replacement has been a major concern to county commissioners since Gov. Tom Wolf last year ordered all of the state’s voting machines to be de-certified by the end of this year. He wants them replaced with ones that have a verifiable paper trail by no later than next year’s presidential primary. The cost of replacing the machines was estimated between $93 million and $150 million, according to the Department of State. House Appropriations Committee Stan Saylor, R-York County, said the money the state is borrowing won’t be available until 2020-21, but “we just wanted to make sure the county commissioners had that assurance they were receiving dollars.”

Full Article: Pa. House considers $90M for voting machines, end to straight-party voting - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Voting machine fight could be costly for counties as Republican lawmakers defy Gov. Tom Wolf on refunds | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Republican lawmakers are refusing to commit to the millions of dollars sought by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to back up his demand that Pennsylvania’s counties buttress election security by replacing their voting machines before 2020′s presidential elections. Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature say that a roughly $34 billion budget counterproposal they are finalizing does not include the $15 million Wolf requested, and that they want Wolf to back off his stated intention to decertify voting machines in use last year. Republicans never agreed to require counties to replace voting machines, and helping finance the purchases is Wolf’s problem, not theirs, said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre. “This was a crisis that the governor created, and he needs to resolve it,” Corman said in an interview. “I feel bad for the counties, because he put a huge unfunded mandate on the counties, but that’s his responsibility.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania voting machine fight could be costly for counties as Republican lawmakers defy Gov. Tom Wolf on refunds - The Morning Call.

Pennsylvania: Here’s who makes money from the voting machine requirement for Pennsylvania counties — and how those decisions are being made | Emily Previti & Ed Mahon|PA Post

As Jeff Frank strode out of his polling place on a recent Tuesday morning, poll watchers thanked him for voting. “Have a great day – enjoy the complaints as they come out the door,” Frank responded. Municipal elections tend to be relatively quiet – even in Montgomery, which consistently turns out a higher number of voters than any other county in the state but more-populous Philadelphia and Allegheny counties  But this year, several counties debuted new voting machines – and two, including Montgomery, went to an entirely different way of voting. “When I came and discovered what the process was, I said, okay, but it is ridiculous, a waste of time and will cause lines so long that people will not be here when the presidential election comes up,” Frank said. Other voters exiting the Temple Brith Achim Synagogue polling location in Upper Merion weren’t quite as animated over the switch from push-button machines to scannable paper ballots filled out by hand. “It’s even it’s better now that you actually get a confirmation ticket that your vote was cast. We never got that before,” said Tykia Turner.

Full Article: Here’s who makes money from the voting machine requirement for Pa. counties — and how those decisions are being made | PA Post.

Pennsylvania: Pushing buttons: No one in City offices approved new voting machines, so why did 83 arrive in Philadelphia? | Courtenay Harris Bond/Philadelphia Weekly

The brouhaha over the buying of new voting machines for the city reached a crescendo when 83 of the most expensive and least secure varieties – according to voters’ rights advocates – arrived in Philadelphia last week. The machines toured by a crew from a local television station before the procurement process had been finalized. That move subsequently has raised lots of eyebrows and questions and now has the whole affair under investigation by City controller’s Rebecca Rhynhart’s office. City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, who has recused herself from sitting on the commission because she is running for re-election, gave NBC10 a look at the ES&S Express Vote XL machines, which cost about $8,000 each and which advocates from Protect Our Vote Philly Coalition and other groups say are less reliable and less protected against tampering than paper ballot systems with scanners. “I think they we picked the worst, most expensive, least secure machines, unfortunately,” said Democratic commissioner candidate Jen Devor, who is running in a pool of 12 other Democrats, including Deeley, in the May 21 primary.

Full Article: Pushing buttons: No one in City offices approved new voting machines, so why did 83 arrive in Philly? | News | philadelphiaweekly.com.

Pennsylvania: Mayor on Philadelphia Controller’s Voting Machine Objections: “I Don’t Know What Her Problem Is” | Philadelphia Magazine

Mayor Jim Kenney has come out swinging in defense of the city’s looming purchase of more than $50 million worth of new voting machines that critics say are too expensive, susceptible to hackers, and the product of a tainted procurement process. On Monday, the City Commissioners’ Office, which oversees elections, took delivery of 83 new ExpressVoteXL machines worth about $8,000 each, or some $664,000, without benefit of a contract, public vote, or any money appropriated to pay for it. City controller Rebecca Rhynhart has publicly pledged to block the purchase of the machines because she’s “deeply concerned about the legality of this process.” “We believe we’re right,” the mayor insisted in a brief interview following a press conference on economic development at City Hall on Thursday. “We think she’s wrong; we did our due diligence. I don’t know what her problem is.” At a Wednesday meeting of the county Board of Elections, city commissioner Anthony Clark stated that he personally “was not aware … that these machines would be here.” “How these machines came, I don’t know,” Clark said. “Who’s paying for them, I don’t know.” At the meeting, Clark asserted that the delivery was in violation of the state Sunshine Law, because no vote had ever been taken by the commissioners. “No decisions should be made without the board knowing what’s going on,” Clark said.

Full Article: Kenney on Controller’s Voting Machine Objections: “I Don’t Know What Her Problem Is”.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia city controller says she will block payment for controversial new voting machines | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart says she will not approve payment for new voting machines that will cost the city tens of millions of dollars. “I’m deeply concerned about the legality of this process,” she said in a statement Tuesday night, “and as city controller, I will not release $1 of payment while these questions go unanswered.” Until her office completes an investigation of the voting-machine selection process, including accusations that it was biased to favor electronic voting machines over paper ones that voters fill out manually, Rhynhart said she won’t sign off on payment. Her approval is one of several that are required along the way when the city purchases new equipment or services. “We need a pause to say, ‘What is going on here?’ ” Rhynhart said in an interview Wednesday morning. “And I’m not going to be releasing any payment until it’s very clear that all procurement rules and city processes were followed in this procurement, because right now I have doubts.” It’s unclear what would happen if Rhynhart refuses the payment after machines are delivered and implementation begins. Dozens have already arrived.

Full Article: Philly city controller says she will block payment for controversial new voting machines.

Pennsylvania: Senate moves to slow down the replacement of voting machines | Associated Press

Pennsylvania’s Senate moved Tuesday to potentially delay the ability of the state’s governor to decertify voting machines in expectation of replacing them all by 2020′s presidential elections to boost public confidence and defenses against hacking. The Republican-controlled chamber approved the bill on a near party-line basis — one Democrat joined Republicans to pass it — in a vote that came a little over a year after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf began pushing for new machines. Republican senators have complained that Pennsylvania is rushing to buy machines at considerable taxpayer expense when there’s logistical hurdles and no legitimate example of a voter irregularity in the state. In addition, Wolf is misusing his authority under the law, said Senate Majority Whip John Gordner, R-Columbia. “Never, never whether it’s been a Democratic governor or a Republican governor has there been circumstance where there has been a pronouncement made that every voting machine is going to be decertified, as was announced last February,” Gordner said during floor debate.

Full Article: Pa. Senate moves to slow down the replacement of voting machines - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania is spending millions on election security, but the effort has its critics | PennLive

The release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election brings the issue of election security back into the spotlight. Protecting the integrity of elections is of particular concern to Pennsylvania after escaping an unsuccessful hacking attempt of the statewide voter registration database by Russian operatives in 2016. With the next presidential election now just a year away, county and state election officials are scrambling to make sure they have done everything they possibly can to avoid foreign actors creating chaos when voters go to the polls to elect the nation’s chief executive. Under an order by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania is moving to voting machines that leave a paper trail that can be audited. Other efforts include securing the voter registration data. Election officials maintain they are ferreting out potential vulnerabilities that could cast doubt on the integrity of election results and making changes to address them before next year’s primary. That’s why Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar says with certainty, “Pennsylvania voters can be completely confident that when they vote in the presidential primary their vote will be counted accurately.” With those efforts, though, come some resistance from county officials along with concerns, particularly about the cost of new voting systems. Replacing those machines alone is expected to cost between $93 million and $150 million, depending on which system the counties choose, according to Boockvar’s department.

Full Article: Pa. is spending millions on election security, but the effort has its critics - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia elections officials won’t overturn controversial voting-machine decision | Philadelphia Inquirer

The two judges acting as Philadelphia’s elections officials won’t overturn the three-member election board’s selection of new voting machines, a setback for watchdogs and advocates who have been criticizing the choice and urging officials to start over. Instead, Common Pleas Court Judge Giovanni Campbell wrote Wednesday to City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, he will allow the Feb. 20 voting-machine decision to stand. “I recognize that voting systems are contested issues and people feel passionately about the systems that will be used for their exercise of a core constitutional right. And I am grateful that you and others have been voicing those concerns to the Board of Elections,” Campbell wrote. “However, I do not believe the Board of Elections should overrule its prior legitimate determinations.” Advocates have for weeks implored Campbell and another judge, Vincent Furlong, to invalidate the selection, arguing among other things that it was an illegal vote and that the choice was not in voters’ best interests.

Full Article: Philly elections officials won’t overturn controversial voting-machine decision.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia controller subpoenas city elections officials over voting machine decision | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart last week subpoenaed the city’s elections officials for documents related to the controversial selection of new voting machines. Rhynhart’s subpoena is the most-pointed official effort known to date to obtain information about a voting machine selection process that critics have decried as opaque, lacking true public input, and biased. The items requested in the subpoena, dated April 1, include copies of all proposals received, the names of all committee members who scored them, and copies of those evaluations. The information was originally due by Tuesday, but the City Commissioners’ Office was granted an extension. (The new deadline was unclear Thursday; the Controller’s Office declined to comment on the subpoena.) Nick Custodio, deputy commissioner under Chairwoman Lisa Deeley, said only that the city’s Law Department “is handling everything as it relates to the request” from Rhynhart. He declined to comment further.

Full Article: Voting Machine Selection Prompts Subpoena in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who rarely says anything at board meetings and has a reputation for not showing up to work, suddenly spoke up Wednesday to say he favors invalidating the city’s choice of voting machines and restarting the selection process. His comments, which caught nearly everyone by surprise, were delivered almost casually during the commissioners’ weekly meeting, after City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart urged the elections officials to nullify the controversial selection of new systems. “Today I request that this body vacate the commissioners’ earlier decision and draft and reissue a new, fair” request for proposals, Rhynhart said after calling the selection process opaque and biased. “Please don’t deny Philadelphia’s voters a true voice in the selection of these machines.” Clark, who had not spoken publicly about the decision and did not cast a vote when the commissioners chose the system, responded: “Well, I’d just like to say that I do support your recommendation. That’s all I have to say at this time.” Advocates have for months implored Philadelphia election officials to select a hand-marked paper ballot system rather than the ES&S ExpressVoteXL system that was chosen Feb. 20 have accused the commissioners of illegally selecting that machine and called for that vote to be nullfied.

Full Article: Philly commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection.