New voting machines debut in Philadelphia next week

Pat Loeb
October 28, 2019 - 3:05 pm
Philadelphia's new voting machines.

Courtesy of Philadelphia City Commissioners

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's new voting machines will get their first major test on election day next Tuesday, but there's still time to try them out before you use them to cast your vote. 

City commissioners said one big reason they chose Express Vote XL is that it's the most similar to the current machines, with all the candidates on one screen.

Except, it turns out, not this election.  

Nick Custodio, deputy commissioner, says that because of the large number of judges up for retention, "we had quite a few retention elections this year and therefore we require a second screen."

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Custodio says they could have crammed everything into one screen but it would have been hard to read.

"The second screen's actually more voter-friendly because it allows us to have larger text and bigger boxes for them to push," he explained.

When you check in at your polling place, you'll be handed a paper ballot, which you'll insert into the new machine. Then, you'll choose your language and the first screen will pop up. That will have all the candidate for city offices. Then you'll go to screen two to vote on retaining judges and answer ballot questions.

"We hope everybody does vote on all the things they're able to vote for. If they choose not to, that's their option but they do have to see every race before they can cast their ballot," Custodio added. 

The selection was controversial. Some activists wanted hand-marked ballots, but Custodio says feedback has been positive at the 800 demonstration sessions the board has held.

"We've had an amazing response from voters across the city that find the new system to be intuitive and easy to use," he said. 

If you'd like to test it before Tuesday, here's a list of demonstration sessions:

Oct. 28, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 37th Ward Voting System Demo (2259 N 10th St, 19133)
Oct. 28, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 65th Ward Voting Demo (5001 Linden Ave, 19114)
Oct. 29, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at  Councilwoman Sanchez Field Office Voting Demo (3150 N Mascher St, 19133)
Oct. 29, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at First Immanuel Baptist Church (2438 Ridge Ave, 19121)
Oct. 29, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Ray and Joan Kroc Center Demo (4200 Wissahickon Ave, 19129)
Oct. 30, 2019 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 52nd Ward Voting Demo (5100 Lebanon Ave, 19131) 
Oct. 30, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at  Councilman Taubenberger's and CareGivers America: Senior Health & Resource Expo - Cannstatter Volkfest Verein (9130 Academy Rd, 19114)
Oct. 30, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Barrier Breaking Org. Voting Demo (5026 Spruce St, 19145)
Oct. 31, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Spectrum Health Services Voting System Demo (5201 Haverford Ave, 19139)
Oct. 31, 2019 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 191st Legislative District Event and Demo (5736 Chester Ave, 19143)
Oct. 31, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Brewerytown Sharswood Coalition - Vaux Promise Academy (2300 W Master St, 19121)

Because events are subject to last minute cancellations and changes, you can call 215-686-1590 for updates.