On Wednesday, Philadelphia’s city commissioners approved the purchase of a new voting system that should be in place for the 2020 election cycle. The new system, according to a statement from the state government, has “updated standards for security, auditability, and accessibility.”

“County commissioners and election directors from rural and urban counties, large and small, are demonstrating remarkable leadership and commitment to ensuring that all voters will be voting on systems with voter-verifiable paper ballots and meeting the highest standards of security and accessibility by 2020,” Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Philadelphia isn’t the only county to make the push to a new voting system this week. Montgomery County, Pa., accepted delivery and began testing of its new voting system earlier this week.

“We are extremely pleased to accept delivery of our new voter-verifiable paper balloting system and look forward to introducing it to our voters in time for the upcoming May 21st primary election,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “The system’s reliance on a simple voter-marked paper ballot meets all state and Federal security requirements and will give Montgomery County voters the highest degree of confidence in our election process.”

The move to the new voting system is a result of an April 2018 mandate from the Pennsylvania Department of State that required counties to choose a new voting system that provided a paper record and met “21st-century standards of security, auditability, and accessibility.” Counties had until Dec. 31, 2019, though the Department of State preferred counties to have the new system in place before the Nov. 5, 2019, general election.

The state government is providing funds to assist counties in purchasing, implementing, and maintaining the new systems. According to a statement from Governor Wolf, he is proposing a minimum of $15 million in state funding each year for the next five years.

“With the developments in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties alone, more than 1.6 million Pennsylvania voters are set to cast their ballots on the most secure and accessible voting systems available,” Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “I can’t say enough about how diligent the counties have been in addressing this vital infrastructure upgrade. County officials across the commonwealth are doing the research, listening to their voters, and making the decisions that need to be made to ensure that our elections will continue to be carried out with accuracy, security, and integrity.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs