STATE—An early January release from the Pennsylvania Department of State announced that there are now three approved voting systems form which counties can choose to be Election Assistance Commission (EAC) compliant for the 2020 elections.
The systems approved to date are the Unisyn Voting Solutions OpenElect 2.0A2, the Unisyn Voting Solutions OpenElect 126.96.36.199A and the Election Systems and Software (ES&S) EVS 188.8.131.52.
In addition to these three, two other systems are expected to be assessed for compliance as well.
According to the release, counties were notified in April that they have until the end of 2019 to implement a voting system which utilizes paper ballots to count votes.
“Systems with paper trails allow for more accurate and reliable post-election audits,” states the release, noting that there has been a bipartisan effort across the United States to replace Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines.
Federal and state funding has been set aside to help accomplish this transition.
Pennsylvania set aside $14.15 million in a mix of federal and state funding for counties to utilize in adapting to an approved system.
As earlier reported, Wayne County received over $54,000 in November toward this end.
Commissioner Wendell Kay, Chairman of the Board of Elections, stated when the funds were received that to accomplish a total overhaul like the state is asking would likely cost upwards of $300,000, as that's what it took the last time the County did so.
Moreover, Kay explained in November and in an interview last week that Wayne County is one of 17 counties resisting the change.
“We are one of 17 counties that currently use paper ballots,” said Kay last week. “...Our paper trail is in fact the ballots themselves.”
According to Bureau of Elections Director Cindy Furman, Wayne County's current voting system is an ES&S paper ballot optic scanner.
While ES&S has an approved system as mentioned above, this is not that system, rather an older system from the same company.
During elections, votes are cast on paper ballots which are then collected and transported to a central location for counting, said Furman.
She added that Wayne County's three largest precincts, Lake, Paupack and Salem townships, have counters at their polling stations to expedite the counting process.
Of the ballot counters, Kay stated, “Our counters are not connected to each other. They're not connected to any other device. They're not connected to the internet. They are plugged into the wall just like your toaster so that they can receive electricity to operate.”
He noted the state's concern is the aging system will no longer receive necessary software and hardware updates by the 2020 election, something he referred to as “...an over abundance of caution by the administration.”
“They're looking around the corner to see a problem, but that problem as of right now, so far as we know, does not exist. And these machines are in fact supported both in software and hardware.”
Kay explained conversations are still ongoing to allow this and other systems to be deemed compliant.