Westmoreland County voters will be able to test voting machines this summer that would enable election officials to meet a state directive that requires new devices to have a verifiable paper trail. While officials cautioned they have no concrete plan to replace more than 850 touchscreen voting computers the county purchased 13 years ago, they said preliminary work is underway in preparation for a potential purchase of new machines. “Our machines are old, but they work well. But like everything else, they have a life cycle,” said Commissioner Ted Kopas. “We are doing our homework now to find a replacement.”
In 2005, the county used $3 million from a federal grant to buy a touchscreen computer voting system to replace lever voting booths that had been used for a half-century.
While the lever machines were antiquated, elections officials could double-check vote totals by examining gears on back of them.
The current models, which have no such fail safe, record votes by electronically uploading results to the county’s computer network. There is no paper trail and no way to check that a vote was correctly recorded by the machine, said Beth Lechman, director of the county’s election bureau.