Watch CBS News

City Officials Hoping For New Voting Machines By 2017 Primary

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia officials are focused on getting new voting machines to replace the original crop of electronic machines, now more than a decade old. But a bit of bureaucracy may hinder the purchase.

The mayor's new budget sets aside $22 million for new voting machines, with the hope to having them in place for the May 2017 primary. At a city council budget hearing this past week, Chief Information Officer Adel Ebeid said the current machines are past their useful life.

"The machines are old, they're starting to fail, we better do something."

So officials are now starting to look at newer voting machine technology -- including machines that are less vulnerable to hacking or tampering.

Budget Director Rebecca Rhyhnart cautioned council members, however, that the city is limited in its choices by the Commonwealth.

"There is a list of state-approved technologies that are allowed to be used for voting machines. So we don't have the level of flexibility perhaps in looking at some of the newer technologies that we might want to have."

Officials are shooting for the May 2017 primary because that is expected to have a lower turnout than elections this year or next and thus will be a better chance to work out problems with the new machines.

The move to new voting machines comes after a court battle over the current voting machine technology used throughout the state. Voting rights advocates said they leave too much room for error because they produce only an electronic tally -- not a paper record. But in February the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the claim, ruling that the record keeping of the current machines is sufficient to protect the rights of voters.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.