Advocates Push For Newer, Manually Audited Voting Machines In Allegheny County

Jul 18, 2017

Advocates are pushing for a citizen’s commission to review Allegheny County’s election practices and technology.

Allegheny County’s current machines are 11 years old, and there’s no immediate plan to replace them. The approximately 4,700 machines were purchased in 2006, when the Help America Vote Act made billions in federal funds available for such purchases.

Ron Bandes, a security analyst and president of VoteAllegheny, a non-partisan election integrity group formed in 2006, said the county’s Direct Recording Electronic, or DRE, machines are too old and the technology doesn’t support a manual audit or recount.

“So if the software has problems whether those problems are due to hacking or simply a programming error, you cannot directly verify that the electronic memory correctly reflects your choices," he said. 

A spokesman for the Allegheny County Elections Division said that DRE machines can issue a randomized report of each individual cast.

Bandes said a system that utilizes paper ballots and electronic scanners would be more transparent.

The County Elections Division produces Voting System Integrity Reports after each election detailing accuracy testing and third-party network security testing.

VoteAllegheny has drafted legislation that would create a citizen’s commission appointed by county council and a chief executive who would help the county choose new machines.

Advocates are currently hoping the council will take up the legislation on its own. They are also collecting petitions for an agenda initiative which would put the legislation before council. A separate petition would create a voter referendum, putting the option before voters this November.