Press Release from the County of Bucks
Off-site public demonstrations of Bucks County’s new, paper-verifiable voting machine system began this week, with excellent turnouts at locations in Lower and Upper Bucks over a three-day period.
Close to 150 members of the public came out for an evening demonstration Monday at Bucks County Technical High School in Fairless Hills Clear Ballot voting equipment, and another 140 showed up for an afternoon session Tuesday at the Quakertown Branch of the Bucks County Free Library. A third public demonstration Wednesday evening at the Bensalem Municipal Building attracted roughly 160 interested citizens.
At each session, Board of Elections staff and other county officials gave an overview of how the new, Clear Ballot voting system operates, after which voters were invited to try out the process for themselves.
Mock paper ballots were distributed with contests for such trifles as favorite vacation spots and ice cream flavors, and attendees filled them out and scanned them into the scanners that record the votes and then store the paper ballots in a secure container.
Many participants remarked favorably about the ease and simplicity of the process, saying that their apprehensions about the new system had been alleviated.
The new, Clear Ballot voting equipment mandated by the Commonwealth gives Bucks County voters greater security through a hand-marked balloting system that provides a verifiable paper record in the event of a recount. The system never touches the internet, eliminating any possibility of outside tampering with results.
The machines will be in use here for the first time this spring – first in a special election scheduled for March 17 in Bensalem to replace former state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, who is now a county commissioner – and then during the April 28 presidential primary.
The primary will be the first election to incorporate changes mandated by the passage of Act 77 of 2019, considered the most significant change to Pennsylvania’s Election Code in decades. Gov. Wolf signed it into law on Oct. 31.
Among other provisions, Act 77 enables voters to cast their ballots by mail up to 50 days before an election, if the ballot is ready, without requiring them to provide a reason. For more details of the new law, click here: https://www.votespa.com/About-Elections/Pages/Voting-Reforms.aspx
While the mail-in option is expected to vastly increase the number of early votes cast, it also will change the way that they are counted. Previously, absentee ballots were sent from the Board of Elections office in Doylestown to individual polling places, where they were counted at the close of voting on Election Night.
The new act requires mail-in and absentee ballots to be kept at the Board of Elections office. The counting cannot begin before the polls close, but must commence within three days after the election and conclude by the eighth day. In addition to scanning those ballots, elections workers in Doylestown will also have to verify that nobody who cast a mail-in ballot also voted provisionally at a polling place.
That has created concerns statewide that tallying the mail-in votes could take an extended period of time, delaying the final results of the elections. As reported this week by the Associated Press, state legislators are looking at possibly amending Act 77 this year to allow for mail-in and absentee ballots to be opened and counted earlier than the 8 p.m. close of the polling places.
The remaining schedule is listed below:
- March 3, 5 to 8 p.m., Sellersville Fire Department Hall, 2 N. Main St., Sellersville
- March 4, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., first floor, Doylestown
- March 6, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., Room R110, Doylestown
- March 10, 1 to 4 p.m., Bensalem Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem
- March 18, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., first floor, Doylestown
- March 23, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., Room R110, Doylestown
- March 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ben Wilson Senior Activity Center, 580 Delmont Ave., Warminster
- April 1, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., first floor, Doylestown
- April 7, 1 to 4 p.m., Juniper Village at Bucks County, 3200 Bensalem Blvd., Bensalem
- April 15, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., first floor, Doylestown
- April 16, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Community College, Lower Bucks Campus, 1304 Veterans Highway, Bristol
- April 21, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Community College, Perkasie Campus, One Hillendale Road, Perkasie