New voting systems on display ahead of 2019 deadline to upgrade old machines

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HARRISBURG, -Pa. - The Department of State hosts a voting systems demonstration at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. This comes almost three months after the Wolf administration announced all voting machines in the Commonwealth must have a verifiable paper trail.

The Department of State has given all counties until the end of 2019 to select voter verifiable paper record voting machines. Right now, just 15 counties in the state have voter paper trails.

“Our machines are old and we have operating systems that are outdated," said Robert Torres, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth. "So I don’t think anyone would argue that the need is not there.”

Unisym was the only voting system of the five vendors at the demonstration to already be state certified. They showed off their 'Freedom Voting Tablet.' It's somewhat similar to an iPad in that it has a touch screen and gives the user the ability to swipe to different elections. Since it is touch screen there are measures put in place to make sure nothing is accidentally tapped.

With the 'Freedom Voting Tablet' you also get what looks like a receipt of the choices you made on your ballot. You're vote isn't actually counted until you place that 'receipt' into another machine acting as a secure ballot box.

One major concern counties have with upgrading their systems is the cost. One ballot counting system alone averages about $5,000.

“The administration plans to work with the legislation to see what support we can provide to the counties," said Torres. "I can also tell you there still some consideration at the federal level whether to offer more money.”

A lot of these discussion are still very preliminary. So much so, that Torres says there are no repercussions in place if counties do not upgrade their systems by the 2019 deadline.

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