Pennsylvania counties can now choose from three paper-record voting systems certified by the secretary of state, with another two systems currently in the certification process.
Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres certified the Unisyn Voting Solutions OpenElect 2.0A2 on Dec. 14. The Unisyn Voting Solutions OpenElect 18.104.22.168A and the ES&S EVS 22.214.171.124 systems were certified earlier in 2018.
To attain Pennsylvania certification, a system must meet the Department of State’s updated security and accessibility standards and also be certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission.
There are two additional systems now undergoing certification testing, and one system expected to be submitted for testing in January.
“We are pleased to announce this certification of a third new voting system with a paper record that will allow voters to verify their selections on the spot before casting their ballot. We want Pennsylvanians voting on the most secure and accessible voting equipment available so they can continue to have confidence in the integrity of our elections and so every eligible voter’s voice can be heard,” Torres said.
Nationwide, there is bipartisan and near universal agreement that, in the interest of security, Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs), still in use in most Pennsylvania counties, should be replaced, and all voters should be voting on paper ballots they can verify.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and many experts have urged states to switch to new systems that produce paper records.
In April, the department informed counties they have until the end of 2019 to select new voting systems that provide a paper record.
The new systems are to be in use no later than the 2020 primary, and preferably by the November 2019 general election. Systems with paper trails allow for more accurate and reliable post-election audits. Counties will have their choice from among any of the voting systems that attain both federal and state certification.
Gov. Tom Wolf has committed to seeking state funding for at least half of the counties’ cost for new voting systems. He will work with the General Assembly in the new year to develop specific proposals for state funding and financing.
The governor has already earmarked for counties nearly $13.5 million in federal funding for election security, plus the state’s required 5-percent match, which raises the total available to $14.15 million.
The department revised and reissued in December a statewide purchasing contract that vendors and counties can leverage to support voting system purchases.
The department also is investigating and pursuing other funding options, including additional federal aid, low-interest financing, leases, cost-sharing and other means.
A regional new voting system expo, hosted by the department with exhibits by five vendors, will be held in Erie on Jan. 29. Earlier expos were held in State College, Moosic, Carlisle and Doylestown.
The events are a continuation of the department’s public education campaign to inform voters and local officials about new voting systems and to allow them to test the systems’ features.