Whether you've voted or not in the past few years for national or local elections, you may or may not know that voting security has become an ever-increasing concern. A bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee released this summer has confirmed previous comments by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Russian hackers scanned election systems in all 50 states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Pennsylvania was one of 21 states targeted ahead of the 2016 election by Russian government operatives.
In an effort for more secure future elections, states have begun to replace and update voting machines in advance of the 2020 election. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, in particular, have followed suit and area voters can expect to see new touchscreen voting machines when they go to the polls for the November 2019 General Election. These are the first new voting machines in Philadelphia since 2002, which were decommissioned following this past May's primary. Prior to those voting machines, the city used the same machines for more than 30 years.
Also, poll workers will now check a resident’s voting status on an smart tablet instead of a paper poll book. These electronic poll book, or “poll pads,” will contain the voting information for all registered voters. If a voter goes to the incorrect polling location, a poll worker will be able to tell him or her the correct location.
So, you may be asking yourself, "What do these new voting machines look like and how do they work?" The Free Library has answers!
Through a number of upcoming community events occurring through October at neighborhood libraries, you can test out the new touchscreen ExpressVote XL machines and practice voting before the next election on November 5. Representatives from the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners will be on hand to demonstrate this new technology to help prepare you for this year’s upcoming General Election. We'll also have a number of upcoming voter registration events at our neighborhood libraries. If you, or someone you know, need to register to vote, stop by the library to register!
Now, here's some more information about these new voting machines:
- The new ExpressVote XL allows voters to securely mark their selections on a touch screen, or with an assistive device, and will produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot, providing an auditable paper trail. This new technology will allow all registered voters the ability to cast their vote in the same manner.
- In addition to a large computerized touchscreen, each voter will be prompted to insert a paper slip into the right side of the machine before casting their vote.
- Once a voter chooses their candidates and ballot question answers on the touchscreen, they are then prompted to cast their ballot. The machine then prints out their selections on the paper slip for the voter to make a final check.
- If the paper ballot is correct, the voter officially casts the ballot. The machine registers the voter's electronic responses and deposits the paper ballot into a locked container inside.
- Voters can choose to see ballots in English or Spanish. The machines display all the offices and candidates' names on a single screen, and allow users to enlarge text or change the contrast on the screen.
- The machines are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, offering a range of accommodations, including an accessible keypad equipped with Braille and the ability to use a sip-and-puff device to make a selection.
- The paper ballots also create a paper trail in case of a hand recount or investigation of voter tampering or fraud.
- Lastly, the voting machines are not connected to the internet.
See you at the polls on November 5, Philadelphia!
For more information and resources on voting, elections, and voter registration in Philadelphia, please visit philadelphiavotes.com