York County set to stick with current provider for voting machines

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County will buy its new voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems, the county's current provider and servicer, if county commissioners approve. 

Commissioner Chris Reilly estimates the final cost to the county will be between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.

The original cost estimate for new machines was $6 million to $8 million.

"It's still a cost I wish we didn't have to bear," Reilly said.

The estimate decreased after Gov. Tom Wolf pledged $75 million over the next five years to help counties pay for the mandatory machine upgrades, but that funding must be approved by the state Legislature.

Dominion, based in Toronto, Canada, was one of three finalists narrowed down by a county search committee. The other two were Election Systems & Software, based in Omaha, Nebraska; and Unisyn Voting Solutions, based in Vista, California.

York County has been a Dominion client since 2010, when the company acquired Sequoia Voting Systems, the manufacturer of the county's existing machines.

Reilly said the county calculated the low end of the cost estimate based on buying one scanner machine per polling place, but it may decide to add extra machines at the top four or five busiest polling places.

Another factor in the higher end of the estimate is the cost of printing the paper ballots, he said.

The Dominion machines use a paper ballot that voters fill out by hand and then feed into a scanner.

More:County officials: Wolf's voting machine pitch better than nothing

More:'It's nuts': Amid uncertainty, York County forms committee on voting machines

More:EDITORIAL: New voting machines costly, but necessary

Background: Wolf made the push for new voting machines after federal authorities said Russian hackers meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Per the governor's order, new machines must leave a paper trail and must be in place by Dec. 31, 2019, in time for the 2020 presidential race.

The estimated statewide cost for new machines is $125 million.

Nikki Suchanic, director of elections  and voter registration for York County, told the commissioners at their March 6 meeting that her department plans to hold public meetings for voters to familiarize themselves with the machines ahead of Election Day on Nov. 5, 2019.

There also will be ballots compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The York County commissioners are scheduled to vote March 20 to make the deal official.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the other firms competing for the contract. It was Unisyn Voting Solutions of California.