Pennsylvania Voters Reach ‘Peak of Mistrust’ After Voting Machines Glitch for Second Time

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    AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File

    Pennsylvania voters are doubting the integrity of local elections in the swing county of Northampton after issues with touchscreen voting devices arose on the most recent Election Day. The glitches were similar to those seen in the county’s 2019 judges race.

    Election officials are scrambling to ensure trust in the voting system as voters and local leaders alike are sounding the alarm, a Saturday Politico report revealed.

    Northampton used Election Systems & Software touchscreen machines for the first time in 2019 and saw a “programming glitch” that caused a significant “undercount” of votes in the local judge’s race, the publication reported. Then, on November 7, 2023, suspicion grew when voters discovered that their printouts meant to confirm their votes on the devices did not match their choices for two down-ballot judges races.

    Electoral workers began processing ballots at Northampton County Courthouse on November 3, 2020, in Easton, Pennsylvania (Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images).

    “In 2019, when the issues came up with the touchscreens, we were told, ‘Don’t worry about it. The cards are recording the votes,’” Northampton County Republican Committee chair Glenn Geissinger told the outlet, referring to the previous glitch incident when voters were told to trust the printouts over the touchscreens.

    “OK, you’re telling me now, in 2023, ‘Don’t worry about what’s printed on the card’?”

    Social media users are sharing similar sentiments, with one Pennsylvania voter posting to X, “Every. Single. Northampton County voter should sue the county for this travesty. This is disgusting, and these machines cannot be used for another election”:

    According to one county executive, voters are at their “peak of mistrust” with the voting system. 

    “We’re at the peak of mistrust of one another, but until that subsides, counties like ours need to be nearly perfect, and I think this system allows us to do that,” Lamont McClure told the outlet before the vote was certified on Tuesday, arguing that the glitch resulted from human error.

    Politico noted that “ES&S and Northampton officials acknowledged that pre-election software testing, which is conducted jointly, should have caught that problem.”

    “We deeply regret what has occurred today,” Linda Bennett, senior vice president of account management at ES&S, said at an Election Day press conference. 

    However, she claimed, “We are sure and positive that the voter selections are actually being captured” because the error supposedly only affected the paper cards.

    According to McClure, he asked ES&S to fire the employee responsible for the error earlier in November to avoid a similar glitch in the 2024 election.

    “It wasn’t a machine error,” he emphasized to the outlet.

    Even local Democrat leaders are expressing mistrust in the machines, with Northampton County Democratic Party chair Matthew Munsey telling the publication, “Since 2019, the theory has been well, that was a big mistake, but we caught it and we’ve implemented new processes to make sure nothing like that would ever happen again.” He added, “I don’t know how we can restore trust with these machines.”

    Six state voting rights groups made a statement in November calling for Northampton officials “to explain the voting machine programming error” and demanding a “full investigation and a report to provide transparency for the public,” the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported.

    “The county’s conflicting messages to the public on Election Day led to confusion, concern, and doubt in the security and accuracy of votes. These mistakes grow into misinformation,” Philip Hensley-Robin, executive director of Common Cause PA, said to the local publication.

    Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt told Politico that “[t]he broader concern is that an incident like this would be misused to undermine confidence in our electoral process.”

    However, he added that while the state is still looking into the Election Day glitch, evidence indicates that the issues there should not be taken as a reason to distrust the touchscreen devices.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Machines gotta go! Too many problems and appears to never be accurate with whom you vote for! Go back to pencil and paper ballots! PERIOD with Picture ID

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