Pennsylvania voting machines shut down after displaying flipped votes for judges in Northampton County

While the paper slips were inaccurate, the computers had properly recorded the actual answers to their memory cards. 

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Tuesday, voters in Northampton County, Pennsylvania took to the polls to cast their ballots in the municipal election. Using digital voting machines, residents made their choices, which were then recorded on a printed slip.

While the vast majority of votes were recorded properly, it was quickly revealed that for one question on the ballot regarding the retention of two Pennsylvania Superior Court judges, the "yes" and "no" options on the paper copy were the opposite of what had been punched in on the computer. 

As the Associated Press reports, voters were asked to choose "yes" or "no" as to whether Judges Jack Panella and Victor Stabile should be retained for another 10-year term. Due to a coding error, however, whichever answer was chosen for Panella showed up for Stabile, and vice versa.

Upon being informed of the issue, authorities investigated and discovered that while the paper slips were inaccurate, the computers had properly recorded the actual answers to their memory cards.

"What you read and what the computer reads are two different things," Northampton County director of administration, Charles Dertinger, said during a press conference later in the day. "The computer does not read the text that is printed out."

An estimated 300 voting machines, the entirety of those in the county, were impacted by the error, however officials quickly obtained a court order allowing them to continue being used.

In an interview with the AP, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure called it a "relatively minor glitch" and reiterated that "everybody's vote's going to count."

While poll workers were instructed to inform voters of the problem and things carried on, McClure admitted that the situation was less than optimal.

"It's our job to help give people confidence, help give them peace of mind in their voting processes," he said. "We need to need to reassure the public that their voting is safe and secure."

The ExpressVote XL voting machines were obtained by the county in 2019 via a contract with Election Systems & Software. The Nebraska-based company took the blame when pressed on the issue, and also saw issues in 2019 when an improperly formatted ballot in a judicial race resulted in election workers having to count votes on paper ballots only.
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