Dauphin County will not comply with state mandate to update voting machines

HARRISBURG, PA. - Dauphin County Commissioners will not comply with a state mandate to update voting machines to produce paper ballots for the 2020 election. The commissioners say, their machines are safe and secure, and there's no reason to spend millions of dollars to update them.

Time is ticking for counties to comply with the Department of State's mandate for new voting machines. By 2020, the state wants machines in place that leave a paper record for people to verify their vote.

“We’ve not been afraid to take on some challenges," said Commissioner Haste. "And if I heard my colleague right, I think we’re telling the state ‘find a better solution.”

Commissioner George Hartwick was not at the meeting, but Haste and Pries hit the brakes on spending upwards of $5 million to replace their voting machines.

“I, at this point, am not comfortable in the direction of new voting machines when ours are working and functioning properly," said Commissioner Pries.

At Wednesday's meeting, the commissioners were expected to make a motion to move forward with new voting machines but, that's not how things played out. The commissioners move to make a motion but remained silent, informing the county clerk they do not want to proceed with purchasing new voting machines.

The voting machines the county has used for the last 30-years, which do not produce paper ballots, will be used in 2020 which will put the county out of compliance with the state's paper ballot mandate.

FOX43 reached out to the Department of State for comment on the county's decision. Wanda Murren with the department emailed us this statement:

​The Department of State has not reconsidered its decision that all counties must replace older voting systems with ones that produce a voter-verifiable paper trail and meet the newest standards of security and accessibility. In fact, even more cybersecurity and elections experts support that decision than when it was announced in April 2018. Last week, Chris Krebs, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), was with our elections team on election day. He reiterated that the upgrade of our voting systems to auditable paper-trail voting systems and the implementation of advanced post-election audits – which will be piloted in the coming days in Philadelphia and Mercer County – are vital measures as we prepare for the 2020 election.

Under the sweeping new Election Code modernization signed by Governor Wolf at the end of October, counties have until July 1, 2020, to apply to the state for funding to help upgrade their voting systems. The Department of State encourages all counties which have not yet selected new systems to make their selection quickly in order to take advantage of the funding available.

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