The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, formerly Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of State:
The security of Pennsylvania’s elections is at a crossroads. In 2018, 83 percent of Pennsylvanians have voted on unverifiable direct recording electronic (DRE) systems. The state already recognizes the need to replace aging and vulnerable electronic voting machines with ones that have a voter-verifiable paper ballot or record of votes cast before the 2020 election.
Governor Tom Wolf committed to this nearly a year ago, yet his budget address to the joint legislative session today falls short of providing the resources counties need to implement best election security practices. In light of the inadequacy of the funding request and the timing of the directive, the Governor should allow the 17 counties that already vote on paper ballots to keep their systems until more resources are available. Regardless, the remaining counties who do not have a plan to replace their systems are risking another presidential election in which the reported outcome cannot be verified.
The Governor doesn’t have to look any further than the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security’s report last week for funding options. The report, which published recommendations to help counties purchase electronic voting systems with paper ballots and implement mandatory post-election audits and election emergency plans before the 2020 presidential election, recommends legislators fully fund the replacement of vulnerable systems using creative financing mechanisms if possible.
The Governor could also relieve counties that already provide paper ballots from the mandate to replace their systems immediately. For these counties, robust post-election audits can protect the integrity of the election outcomes with the existing systems.
“Verified Voting calls on the Pennsylvania legislature to appropriate additional funding to subsidize the cost of replacement. In addition, we urge the Department of State to insist that all newly-certified voting systems include the most secure features and will be ready for robust post-election tabulation audits. Given the threat of hacking and other cyberattacks, the cost of replacing Pennsylvania’s current systems in 50 counties far outweighs the cost of leaving our elections vulnerable.”