Pennsylvania

Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Monroe County Voters Voice Concern Over Elections Tech | Brian Myszkowski/Pocono Record

The ballots are in, the votes are counted, and the consensus is…there are still a few kinks to iron out before the next election. Last week’s municipal election saw the premier of the new ClearCast scanners, paper ballots and other changes in voting technology in Monroe County, Pa., and other areas across the state and nation. Gone are the electronic screens of the past, replaced with paper ballots and scanning devices meant to ensure the safety and security of citizens’ votes. Voters could simply fill in bubble next to the name of the candidate they wished to vote for, and once they completed the ballot, they fed it into the scanners, which checked for errors, asked for final approval and deposited the slip into a secure box. At least that was the idea. According to a Pocono Record poll, about 70% of voters were able to vote on Election Day without any issues. But when it came to the rest, several concerns tended to pop up rather frequently.

Full Article: Monroe County, Pa., Voters Voice Concern Over Elections Tech.

Pennsylvania: Northampton County voting machines record questionable results | Emily Opilo & Tom Shortell/The Morning Call

Northampton County officials are rescanning ballots cast countywide after questionable results were reported by newly implemented voting machines Tuesday, prompting the head of the county Republican party to demand a recount. Calling the situation “unfortunate,” Northampton County officials issued a statement shortly before midnight acknowledging a problem with counting votes in some county precincts. Voters reported irregularities throughout the day while voting on the machines, and state officials were contacted, the county officials said. The state instructed the county to use paper ballots, not the machine counts, to tabulate its votes. “ES&S has assured the county and the Pennsylvania Department of State that it is assessing and diagnosing what caused the issues with the machines,” the news release stated. Red flags with the results were apparent as even the earliest returns rolled in. Democrat Abe Kassis initially had zero recorded votes with multiple precincts reporting. Lee Snover, head of the Northampton County Republican Party, quickly called for a recount of the paper ballots in at least the judicial contest, saying “I need to win this race.” “We have a hanging chad moment here in Northampton County,” she said, referring to voting machine issues that caused the infamous recount of contested ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

Full Article: Northampton County voting machines record questionable results - The Morning Call.

Pennsylvania: Problems with York County’s new paper ballots | Shelly Stallsmith/York Daily Record

Jerry Brenchley has lived in West Manheim Township, York County, since 1984. Before that, he lived in Los Angeles. The 72-year-old voted in every election in both areas because his grandparents told him that’s the only way to make sure his voice is heard. Brenchley’s voice isn’t going to be heard in this election because, for the first time, he didn’t vote. He and his wife tried, he said. They stood in line at St. David’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for nearly an hour and still hadn’t reached the registration table to get a ballot. “There were five or six ladies handing out ballots,” Brenchley said. “And one came out and said, ‘I’m sorry, they just sent us one machine.’ People were walking out. “This stinks, I mean it really stinks.” Brenchley isn’t alone in his complaints. Voters around York County were voicing concerns about the new paper ballot system. They are worried about this year’s election, but Tuesday’s long lines and voting difficulties have them more concerned about next year’s presidential election. “We waited 2½ hours to vote in 2016,” Valerie Herman said Tuesday. “If things don’t change for next year, we’ll have to camp out.”

Full Article: Election 2019: Problems with York County's new paper ballots.

Pennsylvania: $90M for Voting Machines, Mail-In Ballots Signed Into Law | Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Thursday that advocates say makes the most significant changes to modernize Pennsylvania election laws in 80 years and authorizes the state to borrow of up to $90 million to help counties buy new voting machines ahead of next year’s presidential election. Wolf, a Democrat, said the legislation takes the nation’s least voter-friendly election laws and puts them in line with states that have the highest voter turnout. The bill was negotiated privately by Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature. A draft first appeared last week . It passed the House and Senate on Tuesday and had the support of good-government groups.

Full Article: $90M for Voting Machines, Mail-In Ballots Signed Into Law | Pennsylvania News | US News.

Pennsylvania: Cost, Security Questions Arise After Westmoreland County Voting Machine Approval | Deb Erdley/Tribune-Review

Chuck Anderson, the outgoing Westmoreland County commissioner, said he wanted to ensure county residents had the best voting system available before he leaves office in December. The $7.1 million touch screen/scanner system he and fellow Commissioners Ted Kopas and Gina Cerilli approved this month will cost $30 per voter — or nearly triple the $11 per voter Allegheny County paid for a new paper ballot/scanner voting system. Total cost for that system was $10.5 million. The price per voter is based on the number of registered voters. In Allegheny County, there are 952,685 registered voters. In Westmoreland, there are 235,970 voters. “The people from Westmore­land County expect to have the very best, and this is the best solution to the problem,” Anderson said. Experts who follow elections and cybersecurity say that’s not true. They maintain touch screen/scanner systems, such as the ES&S product Westmoreland County officials bought, are both more costly and less secure than systems that rely on paper ballots and scanners. Christopher Deluzio, policy director for the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law and Security, has studied the issue for the past two years. An ongoing study that looked at what counties paid for voting systems found the average cost in places that bought touch screen/scanner systems was just more than $24 per voter, compared to about $12 per voter for those who bought paper ballot/scanner systems.

Full Article: Cost, Security Questions Arise After Voting Machine Approval.

Pennsylvania: Rage Against the (Voting) Machines: Pennsylvania’s Ongoing Battle for Secure Ballots | Kira Simon/State of Elections

“Green Party’s Jill Stein threatens legal challenge to Philly’s new, $29M voting machines.” At first glance, this may sound like a headline from the 2016 election. In fact, it’s a headline from October 2, 2019. Readers of this blog likely remember that Stein settled a lawsuit with Pennsylvania stemming from a state recount of the 2016 election. Why this is still in the news? Let’s run through Pennsylvania’s recent history of voting machine troubles. In 2016, Pennsylvania was one of fourteen states to use paperless voting machines as the primary polling place equipment in some counties and towns. During the Democratic primary, some counties encountered unusual voting procedures with their electronic voting machines. Three counties did not include a U.S. Senate candidate because the counties did not have enough time to add his name to the ballot after the state supreme court reversed a lower court decision to keep the candidate off the ballot after his petitions were challenged. The counties were unable to add his name because three weeks before the election it was “impossible” to update the information on the machines. To remedy this, voters in one county completed all primary votes except their U.S. Senate vote on an electronic machine – and submitted their Senate vote by a paper ballot; in another county voters had to separately write in the candidate’s name. While this was an unusual instance involving an essentially unknown candidate, you can imagine a scenario where a voting machine may need to be updated close to an election due to an emergency or court order – and the fact that there is no good way to address that issue is disconcerting.

Full Article: Rage Against the (Voting) Machines: Pennsylvania’s Ongoing Battle for Secure Ballots - State of Elections.

Pennsylvania: Fight over Philadelphia’s voting machines may head to court | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wants Pennsylvania to block Philadelphia from using new touchscreen machines the state is buying ahead of the 2020 election and threatened court action Wednesday if it doesn’t do so promptly. Stein’s demand means that she and a group of plaintiffs could take the state back to Philadelphia’s federal court, where they filed an agreement last year to settle their lawsuit over vote-counting in 2016’s election. Stein and the other plaintiffs made the request in writing to Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees elections. “We must protect our vote and we must protect the authenticity of our vote,” Stein told supporters during her announcement in front of Philadelphia’s federal courthouse Wednesday. The department has 30 days under the agreement to respond. On Wednesday, it did not say whether it would decertify the machines or consider decertifying them, although a spokeswoman pointed out that it recertified the system last month after originally certifying it last year.

Full Article: Fight over Philadelphia’s voting machines may head to court.

Pennsylvania: Green Party’s Jill Stein threatens legal challenge to Philadelphia’s new, $29M voting machines | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, threatened Wednesday to take legal action to block Philadelphia from using its new voting machines if the Pennsylvania Department of State continues to allow their use. The machines, which cost the city $29 million, are slated to be used in next month’s election. But Stein said they violate the terms of a settlement she reached with the state late last year stemming from her 2016 recount battle. “We will seek relief in the court if this unverified, unauditable, hackable, expensive machine is not promptly decertified,” Stein, flanked by about two dozen supporters, said outside the federal courthouse in Center City. That agreement settled Stein’s effort in 2016 to seek a recount and forensic audit of voting machines in Pennsylvania and elsewhere after Donald Trump’s victory that year. (Stein, an activist and physician from Massachusetts, received 0.82% of the vote in Pennsylvania.) Under the settlement, the plaintiffs must first notify the Pennsylvania Department of State in writing of potential violations of the agreement; the department then has 30 days to respond before Stein and other plaintiffs can take the matter to court.

Full Article: Green Party’s Jill Stein threatens legal challenge to Philly’s new, $29M voting machines.

Pennsylvania: Allegheny County Elections board approves vendor for new voting machines | Paula Reed Ward/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Allegheny County Board of Elections voted Wednesday to approve Election Systems and Security as the vendor to provide a hand-marked paper balloting system to be used beginning next year. The vote means the county will enter negotiations with ES&S to fulfill a contract to provide enough scanners to count the ballots. The bid proposed by ES&S was $10.5 million. The 3-0 decision came after additional public comment in which advocates expressed concerns about how the ES&S system handles ballots for people with disabilities, including the use of bar codes. The concern is that ballots completed on the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ballot-marking device cannot be reviewed for accuracy. “There’s not a perfect decision to be made,” said Tom Baker, a county councilman and chair of the elections board. Elections board member Kathryn Hens-Greco, a Common Pleas Court judge, agreed that the decision to choose ES&S was not optimal, but it is necessary. “Right now, we’re at a point where a decision needs to be made, and it needs to be a confident decision.”

Full Article: Elections board approves vendor for new voting machines | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pennsylvania: Elections officials touted new electronic poll books. Now the city says they don’t work right. | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia was supposed to use new, electronic poll books in its election this November, allowing poll workers to search for voters on an iPad and sign them in electronically, rather than use thick paper books. The change was supposed to reduce human error, and to make checking in voters faster and easier. City officials promised it would to help troubleshoot problems, such as providing correct information to voters who show up in the wrong polling place. It was supposed to, eventually, provide real-time turnout numbers from every polling site across the city. Turns out the system was not ready for prime time. Instead, “the city observed several problems with KNOWiNK’s pollbook system” during a test election conducted last month, the city’s Acting Chief Administrative Officer, Stephanie Tipton, said in a letter Tuesday to the acting board of elections.

Full Article: Philly elections officials touted new electronic poll books. Now the city says they don’t work right..

Pennsylvania: Election security advocates criticize Pennsylvania Department of State over re-examination of voting machines | Ed Mahon and Emily Previti/PA Post

Election security advocates are criticizing the Pennsylvania Department of State over the way it re-examined an electronic voting machine from a leading election technology company. “We are profoundly disappointed that the Secretary’s office has conducted this re-examination in secret, without transparency or public engagement, which we believe to be in contravention of the requirements of the Commonwealth and the provisions of the Stein settlement,” Susan Greenhalgh, vice-president of programs for the National Election Defense Coalition, said in a news release. “We are examining our options for further action.” Several other groups, including Protect Our Vote Philly and the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections, joined in criticizing the state department. In July, Greenhalgh and other election security advocates submitted a petition to the Department of State, requesting a re-examination of the ES&S ExpressVote XL electronic voting machine. The petition included 200 signatures from voters across the state. “They’ve never refused to let the public come in and observe these systems,” said petitioner and VotePA founder Mary Beth Kuznik. “It’s distressing.”

Full Article: Election security advocates criticize Pa. Department of State over re-examination of voting machines | PA Post.

Pennsylvania: Guard’s Cyber Defense Team meets with Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth | DVIDS

Members of Pennsylvania National Guard’s Cyber Defense Team met with Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar to discuss current mutual projects, including election security, in early August during a Pennsylvania State Department orientation of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s capabilities and assets which included a tour of Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. “This visit covered a variety of topics,” explained Maj. Christine Pierce, defensive cyber operations team chief. “We have been working with multiple Pennsylvania state agencies to provide a variety of services and we were excited to assist the Pennsylvania Department of State with the 2018 midterms as well as other cyber requirements.” Pennsylvania National Guard’s Cyber Defense Team provides comprehensive cyber defense services such as: vulnerability assessments, critical infrastructure assessment, penetration testing, and network monitoring. Network monitoring assistance was provided to the Pennsylvania State Department during the 2018 midterm elections. The team is preparing to assist the Pennsylvania Department of State during the 2020 elections.

Full Article: DVIDS - News - Pa. Guard's Cyber Defense Team meets with Pa. Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania: Allegheny County to ‘stress test’ prospective voting systems | Jamie Martines /Tribune-Review

The Allegheny County Board of Elections committee in charge of searching for a new voting system decided Friday to spend the next month working with vendors to test prospective systems, seeking confirmation that they can handle the high volume of complex contests in the county. A report submitted Aug. 19 by the Voting System Search Committee and discussed Friday indicates that only one of four vendors under consideration has the state and federal certification guaranteeing it can meet the county’s needs. The committee is comprised of officials from the county elections, law, purchasing, computer services, budget and finance, human resources, county manager and administrative services departments. “I was surprised too,” said board chair and Allegheny County Councilman Thomas Baker, R-Ross. “I thought we would have a couple options that were viable that we would be able to pick from. I’m learning at the same pace that you’re all learning. I had no sense, as chairman, what would be in the report.” The voting system’s software must be robust enough to handle up to 4,000 separate ballot styles during a municipal primary election, according to the report. That means a system must be able to support an election involving as many as 10,000 candidate positions and 7,000 contests across the county’s 130 municipalities and 43 school districts.

Full Article: Allegheny County to ‘stress test’ prospective voting systems | TribLIVE.com.

Pennsylvania: Elections board appears likely to pick ES&S voting machines for use beginning in 2020 | Christopher Huffaker/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Allegheny County Board of Elections at a meeting Friday appeared to be on the verge of selecting a hand-marked paper ballot-based system from Election Systems and Security for use beginning next year. The board, composed of Common Pleas Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco, county Councilman Tom Baker and County Council President John DeFazio, had some clear reservations about ES&S regarding both the specific system they are leaning toward and the company on the whole. However, only ES&S is certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission to handle elections with as many different ballots and candidates as an Allegheny County municipal election may have. The board unanimously passed a motion by Judge Hens-Greco asking the voting machine search committee to go back to the four vendors under consideration and ask them to stress-test real past Allegheny County elections, to help evaluate their ability to handle the complexity. After the meeting, however, Judge Hens-Greco said that, even if one of the other vendors passed the test, “I think [I’d] probably not” be able to select them in good conscience.  “I don’t understand why they applied if they couldn’t meet our requirements,” she added.

Full Article: Elections board appears likely to pick ES&S voting machines for use beginning in 2020 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pennsylvania: Election security, transparency and millions of dollars: Questions answered as Allegheny County looks to buy new voting machines. | J. Dale Shoemaker/PublicSource

If you’ve tuned into the news at any point over the past three years, chances are you’ve heard that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Russian interference, “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” was a key — and much publicized — finding of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the U.S. Attorney General earlier this year. But a less prominent finding was that Russia’s meddling also targeted state and county officials in an attempt to access voter rolls and voting systems. According to Mueller, Russia successfully accessed voter rolls in Illinois and even hacked one of the companies that sells election equipment to states and counties. The potential for future attacks, particularly during the 2020 presidential election, has worried some elections experts and advocates in Allegheny County and beyond. But now, as Allegheny County and many other Pennsylvania counties are in the process of buying new voting machines, there is an opportunity to select equipment that will maintain integrity at the polls. The state government, as part of a lawsuit settlement, has directed all counties to implement a voting system with a paper trail by the 2020 primaries. By 2022, counties must have a system in place to automatically audit election results to ensure they’re accurate. At present, a search committee comprised of 10 Allegheny County employees has issued a report assessing the cost and security protocols of nine different voting systems from four companies. Some are paper based, some are computer based.

Full Article: Election security, transparency and millions of dollars: Questions answered as Allegheny County looks to buy new voting machines. - PublicSource | News for a better Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania: Most Pennsylvania counties pick paper ballots | John Finnerty/CHNI

Counties buying voting machines that allow voters to fill out paper ballots are paying half what counties buying tablet-based voting technology are paying, according to an analysis released Thursday by the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers examined the costs paid by 31 counties for voting machines, as counties across the state move to replace their election equipment before the 2020 presidential election. In total, the counties are calculated to spend $69 million on those systems. The state has told the counties to replace their voting machines with new equipment that provide a paper record of votes cast before the 2020 presidential election. That move was prompted by a settlement to a lawsuit filed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein after the 2016 election.

Full Article: Most Pa. counties pick paper ballots | News | sharonherald.com.

Pennsylvania: ‘It’s disappointing’ Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | Michael D’Onofrio/ Philadelphia Tribune

Objections from an official and activists did not prevent Philadelphia City Commissioners on Thursday from reaffirming a $29 million city contract with a voting system vendor that violated anti-pay-to-play laws.

The three-member commission voted 2-0-1 to continue a city contract with Election System & Software (ES&S) to supply new voting machines for the November election. Commissioner Anthony Clark, a Democrat, abstained from the vote.

Commissioners ignored requests by City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart to refrain from making a decision until her office completed an investigation into the procurement process for the new machines.

Rhynhart revealed this week that the Omaha-based company did not report donations and communications by its lobbyists in the run-up to winning the contract in February.

Rhynhart, a Democrat, said her investigation will wrap up in the coming weeks.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not over,” she said.

While activists repeatedly shouted, Common Pleas Court Judge Giovanni Campbell, chairman of the commission, said it was the “right decision for Philadelphia” for ES&S to keep the contract.

“I do not believe this process should be overturned or restarted because of the issues that took place before the board” voted today, Campbell said during the meeting inside Room 246 in City Hall. He declined to comment further after the meeting.

City Commissioner Vincent Furlong, another judge, also voted to maintain the contract.

The city will slap ES&S with a $2.9 million fine over the violations, or 10% percent of the contract.

The city continues to withhold payment to ES&S during Rhynhart’s ongoing investigation.

The investigation

Rhynhart’s investigation so far has shown that ES&S used a lobbyist and engaged in lobbying activities in 2017 and 2018.

The lobbying activities included direct communication with then-City Commissioner Alan Schmidt.

ES&S also failed to disclose campaign contributions by consultants to Schmidt and then-City Commissioner Chairwoman Lisa Deeley.

Registered lobbying firms Duane Morris and Triad Strategies, who lobbied for ES&S, contributed $1,000 and $250, respectively, to a political action committee supporting Schmidt, Rhynhart found. Triad Strategies also made a $500 donation to a political action committee supporting Deeley.

Deeley, a Democrat, and Schmidt, a Republican, voted to award ES&S the contract to provide the new voting system, and KNOWiNK LLC to provide electronic poll books. City Commissioner Anthony Clark, a Democrat, did not cast a vote.

Both Deeley and Schmidt stepped down as city commissioners while they run for re-election. Clark is not running for another term and remains a city commissioner.

Campbell and Vincent Furlong, another judge, were appointed to fill the seats vacated by Deeley and Schmidt.

ES&S’s disclosure violations were unintentional and stemmed from a misunderstanding of the mandated disclosure requirements, said Alan Kessler, an attorney for Duane Morris, which was one of the two lobbying firms for ES&S who violated the city’s anti-pay-to-play laws.

Kessler, who noted another bidder for the voting system contract made similar violations, said the contacts and political contributions from ES&S lobbyists were still disclosed with the city, even though they were not noted in the company’s mandatory disclosure form for the bid.

“It is a classic case of no harm, no foul,” he said.

Activists and residents opposed to ES&S’s contract for the new voting system said the procurement process was tainted and lacked transparency, and claimed the machines were vulnerable to hacking.

“The reason that we have the disclosure laws is so we can reveal conflicts of interest and we can be aware of those or disqualify people from participating if they have conflicts,” said Kevin Skoglund of the nonpartisan organization Citizens for Better Elections.

A double standard?

Rhynhart laid out her findings in a letter this week to Campbell and others; she cited a city Law Department determination that the company’s violations warranted the contact was voidable.

The violations by ES&S were comparable to the issues that led the Kenney administration to disqualify the minority-owned company U.S. Facilities from bidding on a $17 million contract this year, Rhynhart noted in her letter.

U.S. Facilities, a subsidiary of PRWT Services, failed to disclose political campaign contributions totaling less than $500.

“The Kenney administration, at the time, stated that the value of the contribution is not relevant and that the City had little discretion to overlook these kinds of violations,” Rhynhart wrote.

The city’s anti-pay-to-play law disqualifies bidders from competing on contracts if their violations are discovered before a contract is awarded.

However, if the contract has already been awarded when the violations are discovered, the city “has the discretion to void the contract or maintain it,” according to a letter City Solicitor Marcel Pratt sent to the city commissioners this week.

In this instance, Pratt wrote, the “decision rests with the Board of Elections because the Board has the responsibility and sole authority to select the voting machines that are used for elections in Philadelphia.”

Pratt, in his letter, said ES&S would not have been disqualified from bidding on the contract if the company had made the disclosures on its application.

Mustafa Rashed, a spokesman for U.S. Facilities, declined to comment on Wednesday before the vote and could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Machines are on their way

ES&S is expected to deliver the final 500 ExpressVote XL voting machines to the city this week, bringing the total to 3,700.

The city Board of Elections has held more than 200 public demonstrations of the new machines and trained more than 2,500 poll workers in anticipation to use the new system in the November election.

Gov. Tom Wolf mandated all counties select new, certified voting machines by the end of this year.

The new voting systems must be put into place by the 2020 general election to comply with the governor’s order to provide a paper record of votes cast. Philadelphia officials want to have the voting machines in place by the general election this year so their first use is not during a presidential election.

Pennsylvania was one of 21 states targeted ahead of the 2016 election by Russian government operatives.

Full Article: ‘It’s disappointing’ Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | News | phillytrib.com.

Full Article: 'It’s disappointing' Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | News | phillytrib.com.

Pennsylvania: More-secure hand-marked ballots are also cheaper for Pennsylvania counties | Christopher Huffaker/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Election security experts told the Allegheny County Board of Elections in June that the best choice for secure elections is a voting system where most voters make their selections with a pen on paper — while those who need them have access to ballot-marking devices. A new analysis shows that for Pennsylvania counties that have already selected new systems, that is also the cheaper option. The analysis, from Citizens for Better Elections and the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, looks at voting systems selected by 31 Pennsylvania counties, as required by a post-2016 election state lawsuit settlement. The remaining 36 counties, including Allegheny County, had yet to make the decision by Aug. 5, when the analysis was done. A voting machine search committee, composed of county employees, is expected to make a recommendation to the Allegheny County Board of Elections by the end of the summer. “Counties that selected exclusively ballot marking device configurations are spending more than two times as much as counties selecting primarily hand-marked paper ballot,” said the University of Pittsburgh’s Chris Deluzio, one of the study’s authors and also one of the experts who appeared before the Board of Elections in June.

Full Article: More-secure hand-marked ballots are also cheaper for Pa. counties | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania: Philladelphia’s voting-machine contract will move forward despite vendor’s failure to disclose its use of lobbyists | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia’s acting board of elections voted Thursday to keep its current contract for new voting machines, days after the city’s legal department notified elections officials that the vendor had failed to disclose its lobbying activities. “In my opinion, the continued implementation of ES&S’s voting system … is the right decision for the city,” Judge Giovanni Campbell said at a meeting in City Hall, reading from a piece of paper. His comments, before voting to keep the contract, drew hisses and jeers of protest from dozens of people, many of whom had spoken during the meeting to urge him and the two other sitting board members to scrap the deal. “What’s the point of public comment?” one shouted. Another followed: “This is a charade!” Campbell, unmoved, stuck with his decision. “I do not believe that this process should be overturned or restarted,” he said, despite the revelation that Election Systems & Software (ES&S) had bid for the city contract without disclosing its use of lobbyists and those lobbyists’ donations, including to elections officials’ reelection campaigns. In a meeting and letter, the city solicitor told the elections board that the contract was now voidable and that ES&S is liable for a $2.9 million fine, equal to 10% of the contract. But the city’s procurement commissioner also warned in a letter that the process was far along and going smoothly, and that restarting would risk not having new voting machines in place by the April 2020 presidential primary election. On Thursday, the two judges serving on the board of elections agreed.

Full Article: Philly’s voting-machine contract will move forward despite vendor’s failure to disclose its use of lobbyists.