As the 2024 elections approach, voters and officials in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, are expressing growing concerns about the reliability of electronic voting machines. This critical swing state has experienced glitches in the machines during at least two recent elections, prompting calls for answers and action.
One notable incident occurred during a 2019 race for judge in the county, where the machines reportedly glitched and produced fraudulent votes. Although this issue did not receive widespread attention then, it resurfaced in the most recent election. County voting officials are working to reassure voters that the machines are reliable and secure.
County Executive Lamont McClure emphasized the need for near-perfection in the electoral process, especially during heightened mistrust. On the other hand, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State, Al Schmidt, shifted the blame onto the detractors, claiming that they undermine confidence in the electoral process.
According to Politico, the touchscreen machines made by Election Systems & Software were first introduced in Northampton County in 2019. However, the rollout was marred by issues, including undercounted votes for a Democratic candidate for judge. Similar problems arose in a local election on November 7 of this year, where voters reported discrepancies between their chosen candidates and the paper printout of their votes.
Despite McClure’s assertions that the machines have sufficient safeguards, voters, poll workers, and election security watchers remain skeptical. Matthew Munsey, the chair of the Northampton County Democratic Party, expressed doubt about the ability to restore confidence in the machines.
McClure attempted to address concerns by attributing the vote-switching issues to an error programmed into the machines by an ES&S employee during testing. However, voters recall being told not to worry about the glitches in 2019 because the paper ballots accurately recorded their votes.
While county officials insist that the issues were quickly resolved and did not affect the election outcome, the distrust of the machines persists.
Both Democrats and Republicans are urging the county to abandon the current machines, while other groups are advocating for the development and implementation of a more robust backup system before the 2024 elections.
Despite mounting pressure, McClure and other officials maintain that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the machines or their backup procedures. Schmidt dismisses the issues in Northampton, stating that no voting system is immune to human error.
Kevin Skoglund, president and chief technologist of Citizens for Better Elections, expressed frustration with the situation. He believes that those in power have not taken their concerns seriously. As the debate rages on, the reliability of electronic voting machines in Northampton County remains a topic of concern and uncertainty.