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Philadelphia City Commissioners Approve New Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot Voting System and New Electronic Poll Books

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Philadelphia meets Governor’s deadline and secures future elections

Philadelphia, PA – This morning at their regularly scheduled meeting the Philadelphia City Commissioners voted to approve a new voter-verifiable paper ballot voting system to be implemented in the November 2019 General Election. In April of 2018, the Department of State, in conjunction with Governor Wolf, informed all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties that they must have a voter-verifiable paper record voting system selected no later than December 31, 2019, and preferably in place for use in the November 2019 General Election. With their selection, this morning, of the Election Systems & Software, LLC ExpressVote XL the City of Philadelphia has met the Governor’s selection deadline.

“Today is a momentous day,” said City Commissioner Chair Lisa Deeley. “Today, we voted to give the City’s voters a secure and resilient system with an auditable voter-verifiable paper-ballot. We look forward to the next steps which are educating our poll workers and voters. I hope everyone will come out to our public trainings.” Vice Chair, Commissioner Al Schmidt echoed her comments saying that “It's critically important that we make voting easier and equally accessible for all Philadelphians while also considering the need for a secure, resilient voting system. Every voter in Philadelphia should be confident that their ballots are cast securely, and their votes are counted accurately, and our new, auditable paper ballot system will help ensure that.”

The ExpressVote XL is certified by both the federal Election Assistance Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of State. All systems certified by the Department of State meet the requirements of the security experts at the University of Pittsburgh and The Blue Ribbon Commission On Pennsylvania’s Election Security. The ExpressVote XL will also produce a paper ballot with human readable text, that can be verified by a voter before they cast their vote, can be counted in the event of a recount, and can be audited as per the new risk limiting audit procedures being developed by the state.

In her remarks before the vote, Commissioner Deeley applauded activists who supported hand-marked paper ballots for their passion and their feedback, which contributed to the process. However, the Commissioners choose to stick with an all machine method of voting because of voters’ preference for the current style of voting on full-faced machines, the short timeline to retrain poll workers and voters, and the concerns of disability advocates that implementing hand-marked paper ballots would treat voters with disabilities unequally by requiring them to use a separate voting system.

The Commissioners also voted to select KNOWiNK, LLC as the vendor for the new electronic poll books. This modernization of the check-in process will replace the old paper poll books, speed up check-in time, and allow Philadelphia to adapt to any proposed changes in election law. The electronic poll books will be implemented in the November 2019 General Election along with the new voting system. The Commissioners will begin training the poll workers this summer and begin public demonstrations of the new systems as soon as possible.

PDF of announcement is available.