What Does Pennsylvania Need to Improve our Voting Systems?
Pennsylvania has been lucky. Since 2006 we have been running our elections using a hodgepodge of insecure, unverifiable, mostly-paperless electronic voting machines. Time after time our state has dodged a major bullet as serious problems with these voting systems have not resulted in a major electoral meltdown. But how long is our luck going to hold?
The very youngest of Pennsylvania's electronic voting machines were placed into service in 2006 and are now in their eleventh year of use. Eleven years is quite old for most computerized systems -- and some counties' voting machines are even older. All these touchscreen and pushbutton machines are nearing the end of their useful lives. Problems with them will only get worse as they age and wear out. It is past time that our Commonwealth and its counties start making serious plans for the replacement of these old dinosaurs.
VotePA urges our Governor, our General Assembly, and all county officials to take notice. We can't afford not to make this investment in our democracy. With 85% of the votes in Pennsylvania totally dependent on these ancient voting machines, and no voter-verified paper backup to audit or recount, we are only one major problem away from an electoral crisis!
So what are the two most important things that would improve the way we vote in Pennsylvania?
- Protect EVERY vote in Pennsylvania on a voter-marked paper ballot. The most modern and reliable voting systems available today use paper ballots, marked by the voters and inserted into a small scanner as the voter exits the polling place. The scanner gets a fast, modern count and then deposits each ballot into a locked ballot box where it is available for audit and recount if necessary. Voters with disabilities use accessible ballot markers and every vote is protected on paper. Almost three-quarters of voters in the USA currently use a modern state-of-the-art paper ballot system like this, but barely 15% of Pennsylvania's voters have a paper ballot as of now.
- Every election in Pennsylvania needs to be meaningfully audited. Our current state election code calls for an audit of the votes in each county of 2% or 2000 votes, whichever is less, using a different counting method from the original count. Unfortunately, the paperless Direct Recording Electronic touchscreen and pushbutton machines used in over 50 counties cannot meaningfully comply with this law because votes cannot be counted outside the software running them. With a voter-marked paper ballot protecting every vote we can require robust and meaningful audits of every election, audits that will have a real likelihood of catching problems!
If you are sick and tired of trusting your vote to ancient computers running secret software that can't really be audited, and then being told that everything is fine, VotePA needs YOU!
Join us, and join the fight for open, accessible, and verifiable elections in Pennsylvania.