From anecdotal information received from Southwest polling places, the new ExpressVote XL touch screen voting machines used for the first time in the November 6, 2019 General Election appear to have been generally satisfactory. Voters expressed great satisfaction in (a) being able to see and correct their ballot before registering their vote, and (b) knowing that there was a printed ballot available to verify the choices. But some glitches and delays did occur due to the newness of the procedures.
The unpleasant news in the New York Times on December 1 was the extent to which the voting machine supplier, E.S. & S. LLC of Omaha, Nebraska, paid off the elected officials responsible for making the purchase.
According to the article, E.S. & S. ponied up over some $425,000 in “lobbying payments” in connection with the City’s purchase. Of this, they say that $27,000 was paid directly to the political campaign of City Commissioner Al Schmidt.
That kind of money looks huge to us regular working-class folks, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $22,000,000 paid to E.S. &S by Philadelphia out of our taxes to buy the machines. In the words attributed to our resident watchdog, Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, this purchase “looks very, very, flawed!”
One would hope that the investigative reporters on our major newspaper(s) will scrutinize where the balance of lobbying money went and will have that information available when the City Council members and Commissioners come up for election.
We have asked E.S.& S. management where the voting machines were actually manufactured and when this information comes to us we will pass it on to our readers. God forbid that they are made in any country which has a record of hacking into our voting system!
As to the mechanical aspects of the new voting machines, we would expect that any remaining bugs could be eradicated during the next primary elections coming up April 28, 2020. Given the likelihood that foreign interests will continue to interfere with our voting process, the procedures, poll worker training, and machines themselves need to be in first-class working order when the November 3, 2020, Presidential balloting comes around. It is certainly the most import election in our lifetime.
Ted Behr (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Photo courtesy of kingscountypolitics.com)