Berks County, Pa., Installs Voting Machines with Paper Trail

In January, Berks County approved spending nearly $4.5 million on new voting machines from Election Systems & Software, fulfilling a state directive that all voting systems produce a paper trail to track ballots.

by Karen Shuey, Reading Eagle / July 9, 2019

(TNS) — Watching as voting machines were loaded into the back of a truck Monday morning, Berks County, Pa., Election Director Deborah M. Olivieri looked as if she were about to burst into tears.

“I guess this must seem kind of silly?” she asked, gazing around the cavernous warehouse at the Berks County Agricultural Center where 530 voting machines were sitting in neat rows. “They really feel like my children. And I know how strange that probably sounds.”

Olivieri spoke about how for the past three decades she was responsible for making sure each machine was where it was supposed to be on Election Day, that it functioned properly and that it had made a safe journey back to the warehouse after the polls had closed.

“These machines represent my entire life as a county employee in a way,” she said, explaining that, like the machines, she began her service to the county in 1989. “There is a lot of history there. This is truly a sad day.”

The day marked the end of the road for the machines. They were loaded onto trucks and taken to Berky's Transfer & Site Container in Ruscombmanor Township, where they would be destroyed.

The Berks County commissioners in January approved spending nearly $4.5 million on new voting machines from Election Systems & Software to replace the 30-year-old machines, fulfilling a state directive that all voting systems must produce a paper trail to track the ballots.

Olivieri said the new machines will be delivered later this month.

“I think I will feel better once the new machines arrive,” she said. “It will be a lot of work to make sure the voters and the poll workers feel comfortable using the new technology. But we are excited to get started.”

In the meantime, the plan is to clean the warehouse a bit before the first shipment is delivered in two weeks. Olivieri will also take that time to get used to the fact that she will have new “children” to look after.

But she revealed she is keeping two of the old machines tucked away in storage.

“I guess I just wanted them for the memories they represent,” she said.

©2019 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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