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November 05, 2019

Philly residents react to new voting machines on election day

Election 2019 Voting
Voting machines philly Source/City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia debuted the new ExpressVote XL voting machines for Tuesday's election. The machines were chosen earlier this year after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a directive requiring all counties to procure new voting machines that leave a voter-verifiable paper trail.

Philadelphia voters are getting their first experiences with the city's new electronic voting machines chosen earlier this year in accordance with a state mandate.

The ExpressVote XL machines, manufactured by Election Systems & Software, were picked in a controversial bidding process that was geared toward getting the new system tested before the 2020 presidential election.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a directive in February 2018 requiring all counties procure new voting machines that include a voter-verifiable paper ballot or paper record of votes cast. The mandate was intended to address security concerns about Russian interference in 2016 election. Wolf later approved $90 million in funding to help counties pay for new machines.

Philadelphia became the first county in the state on Tuesday to debut its new machines, which involve placing a paper ballot into the machine prior to casting votes. The paper ballot records votes in plain text for voters to review along with a bar code printed at the top for votes to be counted.

The city released a video tutorial showing how to use the machines in advance of Tuesday's election.

One upshot of the new wheel-transported machines is that at least 20 polling locations had to be changed, in part to make sure all stations were wheelchair accessible. 

Voters took to social media on Tuesday to share their experiences with the ExpressVote XL machines. The reviews have been mixed. 

Protect Our Vote Philly, a coalition opposed to the new electronic machines, is asking voters to fill out a questionnaire about their experience with the ExpressVote XL machines.