Pa. primary: Debut of Montco's paper ballot machines gets mixed feedback

Jim Melwert
May 21, 2019 - 10:47 am
It’s been a week since Pennsylvania’s primary election day, giving Montgomery County officials some time to digest feedback on the new paper-ballot voting machines.

Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio

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COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County rolled out its paper ballot voting machines this Election Day, and voters are mixed on the new — yet old-school — method.

With the new machines, after you check in, you receive a paper ballot, a Sharpie, and a manila folder. Voters are then directed to one of six privacy screens to fill in the bubbles like a standardized test. Ballots are placed in the folder, if you’re concerned about privacy, and then it's taken to a scanner and fed in.

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For the most part, voters like Ralph Corvacchioli from Collegeville give it the OK.

"There’s a few extra steps in this particular procedure, but it’s not anything overwhelming," he said. "I’m sure everyone will adjust."

Compared to the old push-button machines, Donna Harter from Collegeville said she felt more confident that she voted for who and what she wanted to vote for.

"When you get in there and you’re pressing the buttons, it’s kind of like you’re afraid to press that last button," she admitted, "but because I could see what I was doing, I knew I didn’t make a mistake."

One Twitter user said she felt the process took a lot longer, and she’s worried what it will be like with heavy turnout during a presidential primary or election.

Voter Jeff Schilling isn’t a fan either.

"It was hard to see," he said. "It was a lot more time-consuming to fill them out one by one by one. It’s definitely going to slow down the process. So when we get to the presidential, it’s going to be really long."

Pennsylvania is requiring all counties to switch to a paper ballot system by next year’s primary, after security concerns were raised in the 2016 presidential election.