Pike County is getting new paper-trail voting equipment County commissioners are getting ahead of state directive
Nadeen Manzoni, Pike County Elections Office department head, demonstrates one of the new voting machines with Jeff Phillips, customer relations manager at Dominion Voting Systems (Photo provided)
MILFORD — Pike County will replace its voting machines with voter-verifiable paper trail equipment by the 2020 presidential primary, the county commissioners announced on Tuesday. They are getting ahead of a Pennsylvania Department of State directive that requires a paper trail system. Commissioners say Pike is one of only a few Pennsylvania counties that will meet the mandate early, by the 2019 spring primary. “This is the best case scenario,” said Nadeen Manzoni, who heads the Pike County Elections Office. “It will provide an opportunity for Pike County voters to use the new equipment during two elections prior to the 2020 presidential election season.” The current touch-screen equipment will be replaced with an ImageCast Precinct scan system that allows voters to hand-mark paper ballots and send them though a scanner that stores and tabulates votes. The new system allows for on-site, second-chance voting if the scanner identifies errors or missed lines, giving the voter the option to correct the ballot or cast it as is. An option compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be available, providing a private voting environment for those who need it. In this option, an audio version of the ballot confirms voter selections. Help from state and federal fundingThe new equipment is being purchased from Dominion Voting Systems, the same vendor that had provided Pike’s current touch-screen voting equipment. Dominion’s regional sales manager, John Hastings, demonstrated the new ImageCast Precinct scan system equipment during the commissioners' Feb. 6 public meeting. “We vetted several potential vendors and Dominion’s system proved cost effective and flexible in its capacity to be updated to meet future state requirements,” said commissioner's chair Matt Osterberg. “Dominion’s customer service has also been excellent.” The county will purchase 25 new machines to accommodate its 18 precincts. One complete system will be on site at each precinct, with extras available if needed. The total equipment upgrade cost is $200,006. A portion of the cost will be covered by funds from the Help America Vote Act of 2004. Last year, Congress released $380 million of this grant funding. Pennsylvania received $14 million of this sum. The money will be distributed to counties based on voter registration numbers. Pike’s share is $68,000, Manzoni said. In addition, the state has budgeted funding for 2020 that will cover half the cost of the new system, which is approximately $100,000 for Pike County. “So far we have $168,003 in funding,” said Manzoni. Additional costs of the mandated equipment upgrade will include privacy booths, ballot bags, and poll worker training. Manzoni estimates these costs to be approximately $37,000. The state is looking into other funding streams, Manzoni said. Training underwayManzoni is now being trained on the new machines and will in turn train approximately 140 volunteer poll workers who serve the county. Beginning in late March and leading up to the May 2019 primary election, the new equipment will be demonstrated at various locations throughout Pike County. It will also be on display at the Pike County Elections Office in the Administration Building, at 506 Broad St., In Milford, PA. For more information about the new equipment contact Manzoni at email@example.com or 570-296-3427.