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Berks County, Pa., Tests Voting Machines Ahead of Election

Election workers have begun conducting logic and accuracy testing to ensure the machines voters will use on election day are running properly before they are put into service May 16.

(TNS) — When Berks County voters head to the polls on May 16 to cast their ballots in the municipal primary, they can rest assured the machines they are using have been put to the test.

Election workers have begun conducting logic and accuracy testing to ensure the machines voters will use on election day are running properly before they are put into service. That arduous and tedious process, which will take more than a week to complete, began Friday morning at the Berks County South Campus in Mohnton.

County officials invited members of the media as well as representatives from the local Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green parties to check out the process, saying they want to provide as much transparency as possible about how the machines are readied for action.

Stephanie Weaver, the county elections assistant director, said the testing helps build trust in local elections and clarity in the process.

"Logic and accuracy testing is a really important part of our preparation process for each election," she said. "Having representatives from the parties here helps allow people to see and understand the process. They are able to see how robust and meticulous each step is so that they can help us get that information out to the public."

Each of the nearly 800 voting machines the county will use on May 16 will be tested. So will the ballot scanners from each of the 202 Berks precincts.

The last piece of equipment to be tested will be the electronic poll books because the county will not have the complete voter registration rolls until after the registration deadline — which is 15 days before election day.


The county rolled out the voting machines for the 2019 general election, which allowed people to vote electronically while providing a paper backup of their ballot for the first time.

The nearly $4.5 million purchase of machines from Election Systems & Software fulfilled a state directive that all election systems produce a paper trail to track ballots. That rule was the result of national concerns about election integrity in the 2016 presidential election.

The voting machines do not have Wi-Fi capabilities and cannot be connected to the Internet.

The system, ExpressVote, allows voters to use touchscreens to make selections. The machines then print paper ballots that include a barcode and plain text, giving voters a chance to look at the receipt to ensure their vote was recorded correctly.

The barcode is read by a scanner — casting the vote. Administrators are able to look at how many ballots have been cast on the machine but are unable to match a vote to a person. The ballots are then secured in a bag in the tabulation machine until the polls close.

The judge of elections at each voting precinct removes the bag and securely closes it in the presence of two other poll workers. The judge of elections then takes the bag to the county elections office on election night.

The plain text version serves as the official record of votes. The ballots remain in the elections office until the results are certified and then archived.


The Pennsylvania Election Code requires each county to follow a directive issued by the secretary of the commonwealth that all election equipment undergo logic and accuracy testing before an election.

The directive states that the testing is necessary to ensure ballot marking devices and scanners are properly configured and in good working order before being delivered to voting locations.

The county has used Elections USA, a Bucks County company that specializes in providing technological support for election systems, to perform the testing.

The first step in the process is ensuring the ballots are finalized for each precinct. That happens in the elections office on a secure computer that is not connected to the internet. Those ballots are then uploaded on encrypted USB sticks.

Once the ballots are uploaded the tests begin.

The testing process includes putting an encrypted USB stick into the machines to upload all the security passwords connected to this particular election. The machine will now know that the next USB stick has to have the appropriate passwords on it in order to successfully download the ballot.

R.F. Shoup, president of Elections USA, and his staff check to see that the ballots have been loaded correctly onto the machines, then make selections on the ballot.

They then take the ballot to the scanner belonging to that precinct to be tabulated.

Once ballots from all the machines in a precinct have been scanned, the scanner produces a paper and digital receipt. The digital receipt is uploaded to an encrypted USB stick, which is checked by elections office staff to make sure the results match the votes that were cast.

After the machines have been successfully tested, they are sealed and considered ready to be delivered. The machines will be moved to polling locations by staff from the county facilities department starting two weeks before the election.

©2023 the Reading Eagle, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.