Philly won’t have new voting machines in place for 2020 election, commissioner says

Philadelphia voting machines are stored at the Office of the City Commissioners warehouse. (Brad Larrison for NewsWorks)

Philadelphia voting machines are stored at the Office of the City Commissioners warehouse. (Brad Larrison for NewsWorks)

Pennsylvania has told its counties to replace outdated voting machines, and the new ones would have to include a “paper trail” that can be used for a recount.

Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres set a Dec. 31, 2019, deadline for replacing the machines, in order to have new systems in place statewide for the 2020 presidential election.

But Philadelphians won’t be casting their next vote for president on updated equipment.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said the city will find machines by the deadline, but they will not be  put in service.

“I think that we are on track in the city of Philadelphia to have new equipment selected by the close of 2019,” she said.

That means the older machines that do not have a backup for every ballot will be still be in use in November of 2020, Deeley said.

“We would roll them out in ’21, not in the presidential,” she said. “We would train and maybe do a soft opening, like a trial in certain areas, then roll them out citywide in ’21.”

The Pennsylvania Department of State indicated it prefers that counties get new machines in place two years earlier by November, 2019.

Janice Hobbs-Pellechio, president of SAVE-Bucks Votes, said she’s happy the state has ordered installation of  new voting machines. Most voting machines in Pennsylvania save votes on a computer chip rather than paper.

“Those votes are only recorded electronically. There is no way to go back and double-check that what they voted
was actually recorded at the end in the tally,” she said.

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