Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered counties planning to replace their electronic voting systems to purchase machines that provide a paper trail. Paper trails serve as a safeguard against hacking and make audits of the vote easier. But as The Associated Press noted, the governor’s “budget doesn’t include any money to fund the replacement of the state’s aging, increasingly vulnerable fleet” of voting machines. The AP reported that the Wolf administration “said in a statement later Friday that it’s working on a comprehensive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s election apparatus, including its voter registration database.” Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential elections, and it will try to do so again in this year’s congressional elections. That was the unanimous assessment delivered by our nation’s intelligence chiefs to a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. So Gov. Wolf is absolutely correct in seeking to protect our voting systems. Pennsylvania — the birthplace of American democracy — should lead the way in protecting the vote.
Marybeth Kuznik, a longtime election judge and founder and executive director of VotePA, a nonpartisan alliance that advocates for more secure voting systems, told the AP that Wolf’s order is a “huge step forward for Pennsylvania, for better elections. Just huge.” But she pointed out that counties don’t have the money to replace their aging voting machines.
In his statement about his order, the governor said his administration “will continue to advocate for the federal government to provide more resources to update voting machines.”
In our view, the governor should have allocated money in his budget for this essential effort. A budget, it’s often said, reflects an administration’s — or an individual’s — values. Replacing the commonwealth’s aging voting machines in order to guard against those who seek to do us harm should be a priority.