Fitzgerald comments on voter-verified paper ballots directive
February 13, 2018
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued the following statement in response to last week’s announcement from Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of State on new voting machines:
“I applaud Governor Wolf’s announcement to require new voting machines to have a voter-verifiable paper ballot or paper record of votes cast. This step will further ensure the public’s trust and confidence in the elections process.
“Voters have been advocating for a measure such as this for years. For Allegheny County, two hurdles have prevented us from making such a change. The first, the state authorization of equipment that meet this standard, has now been removed. The second hurdle, that of funding for the purchase of new machines, remains. I join Governor Wolf in continuing to advocate for the federal government to provide more resources to update voting machines.
“We have approximately 4,600 voting machines in the county. They were purchased in 2006 with funding provided by the federal government through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Each year, those machines and the firmware on them go through airgap and parallel testing procedures to ensure their integrity. The results of those procedures are also publicly available on the county’s website for anyone to read and review.
“Recent estimates indicate that it could cost as much as $26 million for the county to purchase 1,322 ballot scanners for the precincts and some type of ballot-marking device for handicapped voters. Additional funding would also need to be budgeted to address other mechanical and functional issues that we do not have with our current machines. Such an investment is not something that we can currently commit from the county budget, but should instead come from federal funding.”