New voting machines coming to Mercer County in 2020

A new system has to be ready by the 2020 election, as ordered by the state

MERCER CO., Pa. (WYTV) - Amid national concern over election meddling by foreign countries, Mercer County is trying to get its ballot machines in place.

Every county in the state has until April 2020 to get a certified voting system.

"We -- for 200 years in the country -- had paper ballots, then we went to levers. Now we went to our first touchscreen technology," said Jeff Greenburg, director of elections.

Greenburg says there's very little risk of election tampering with these types of machines because they are never connected to the internet.

"This is our express vote, universal voting device," said Kevin Kerrigan, who works for Election Systems and Software.

To show off the new technology, an event was held Thursday night at the Mercer County Courthouse. It was the first of three different demonstrations by different companies -- all trying to get their software to be the next voting system in Pennsylvania.

Voters will insert a blank piece of paper, vote on a touchscreen, then have their paper ballot printed. The voter is in control of the machine at all times, so no one else handles their ballot.

"They're now going to have a marked ballot," Kerrigan said.

So, it's still a paper ballot even though voters are voting on a screen.

Peg Portal works on election day as judge of elections. She says many people that come to her polls are elderly and she's worried the change will confuse or even scare people away.

But, she's hopeful that once the system is in place for a while, people will lighten up.

"I think afterwards they're going to like it," she said.

County commissioners will ultimately make the decision on which system to use.

Mercer County spent around $1 million in 2005 to get the then current system. Greenburg expects to spend between $1.2 and $1.5 million this time.

If you want to check the new systems out for yourself, there is another session June 28 and another on July 12.

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