County officials can now move forward with the next step in preparing for the April primary election, as 58 new voting machines were delivered Thursday.
In December, Huntingdon County Commissioners approved a major purchase for 58 voting machines from Election Systems & Software (ES&S), as they are required by a state mandate, for a total of $583,757. This includes an additional $39,065 for the warranty, maintenance and support for the first year and an additional $11,845 for an extended warranty on the machines.
All 67 counties in the state were required by law, as a result of Act 77 of 2019, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, in which the state will provide a total of $90 million in funding to all counties to update all voting machines that include a paper trail.
The county is to receive 60% percent of the funding to pay for the machines from the state, and they will also receive an additional $43,000 from the federal government to pay for the machines.
This meant that despite the fact the previous voting machines in the Huntingdon County met all federal requirements of having a paper trail, they were decertified by the state, forcing the county to update.
Tammy Thompson, the county’s elections coordinator, explained the next step for training and making sure the machines will be ready for the Tuesday, April 28, primary.
“Next week, I will be doing software training for ballot programming,” she said. “Then, in mid-March, myself, along with other county employees, will have a more in-depth hardware training on the new machines.”
After county employees are trained, then Thompson noted that all poll workers will be trained with the new machines.
As far as what voters should expect on Election Day with the new machines, Thompson said it should be a seamless transition from the old to new machines.
“It will be very similar to what they remember,” she said. “The only differences will be the display screen that will tell you that your ballot has been filed will be bigger than before.”
In addition to purchasing 58 regular voting machines, 58 voting machines that are specifically designed for ADA accessibility will also be available for voters.
Thompson explained with those special machines, people will receive a smaller blank ballot they will insert into a machine, then voters will then make their choices on a screen, then the blank paper is printed with their voting choices.
After they print it out, the poll worker will insert it in a slot just above the regular ballot slot in the regular voting machine and will be counted.
She also noted the machines will likely be easier for poll workers to use.
“We value and appreciate all of the work they do on Election Day,” said Thompson. “These new machines will make it easier for them, so for that, we’re excited about (the new machines).”
Thompson said once all of the voting machines are prepped at the county office, they will be delivered to the 58 voting precincts in the county.