UPDATE: Election bill aimed at fixing York County elections heads to Wolf's desk
The state House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that includes language addressing issues prominent in York County's municipal elections earlier this month, sending it to the governor's desk.
The move came after the state Senate on Wednesday also unanimously approved the bill, which includes a recent amendment by the State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township.
The amendment removed all language from the bill referencing ballot stubs and included a paragraph giving the Department of State the power to spearhead voter privacy measures.
“This is the first of several steps we are taking to address the challenges many York County voters faced during the election earlier this month,” Phillips-Hill said. “I am grateful we could turn this around in short order to ensure these much-needed changes are in place in time for when York countians head to the polls in 2020.”
Gov. Tom Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said Wolf intends to sign the bill this coming week.
It enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support in both legislative chambers.
The bill implements a wide array of electoral changes. Those most notable for York County include eliminating ballot stubs that led to jamming and inadequate measures to address privacy concerns.
York County's Nov. 5 municipal elections proved to be troublesome. Results were delayed because of a shortage of ballot-counting scanners — which caused long lines — as well as technical glitches and incorrect paper ballot sizes, officials have said.
Ballot stubs, which are ripped off and leave a perforated edge, are a part of an outdated ballot system required by older voting machines, Phillips-Hill said.
With the new, Wolf-mandated scanners that leave a verifiable paper trail, those jagged edges led to feeding problems and, in some precincts, jams. The amendment would completely do away with such ballots.
Many county residents during and after the elections, including during a debriefing meeting after Election Day, voiced privacy concerns stemming from the new scanning machines.
Some voters alleged it was too easy for poll workers and other voters in the precinct to see their ballots and who they voted for. Under the amendment, the Pennsylvania State Department would have the power to enforce higher privacy standards.
Another large issue for precincts earlier this month was an insufficient number of scanners, which was not addressed in the committee's amendment.
Dominion Voting Systems wrote in a preliminary report offered to county officials during the debriefing last week that it would create a new formula to determine how many scanners precincts need.
During the municipal elections, each precinct in the county — 159 total — had only one scanner regardless of size. Dominion attributed that number to a faulty formula they had created with county input.
County officials do not yet know how many new scanners will have to be purchased, but county spokesman Mark Walters has said they cost nearly $5,000 each.
Funding for more scanners would likely be found in Act 77, a measure the state approved in October that provided $90 million for new machines, Phillips-Hill said.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.