Recently, voting machine troubles have sparked concerns in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, just a few years before the highly anticipated 2024 presidential election. These glitches, which occurred during the use of touchscreen voting systems, have raised alarm among local politicians, poll workers, and elections experts.

The controversy parallels a similar incident in 2019 when Northampton County faced issues with its newly implemented touchscreen voting machines during a down-ballot judges race. Despite assurances that the glitch resulted from human error, the recent recurrence has intensified worries among state and local election officials, who strive to restore trust and voter confidence ahead of the upcoming election.

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Pennsylvania’s stakes are exceptionally high, a crucial swing state boasting 19 electoral votes. Northampton County, home to approximately 220,000 registered voters, played a pivotal role in the previous election, with the state being won by a narrow margin in 2016 and then allegedly lost by a similarly slim margin in 2020.

While officials claim that the recent glitches did not impact the outcome of the races, concerns over the reliability of the Election Systems & Software (ESS) machines remain. The touchscreen voting machines, known as ExpressVote XL, produce paper printouts that record voters’ choices through barcodes and corresponding text. In the disputed races, the machines reportedly swapped voters’ choices in the written section of the ballot while keeping the barcodes unchanged.

Sean Parnell, Col. Rob Maness, and Savage Rich Baris weighed in:

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Sean and I were talking about the odd results in Northampton and how it normally votes nearly identical to Erie on Election Night.

Even if there is no smoke, they don’t seem to understand voters don’t believe them and elections must be conducted with more competence.

But I have to say, a review of the vote does point to strange patterns.

The initial early vote was very similar. The Election Day vote was so similar the margins at ≈ 67.5% were identical. After ≈ 71%, ED vote flipped Erie. Not Northampton, in which these issues delayed further reporting, and when reporting continued, there was a 16 point swing.

If officials cannot understand how and why voters don’t buy that, then they’re faking being stupid.” – Savage Rich

County officials and ESS acknowledge that the pre-election software testing should have detected this issue, highlighting the importance of proper programming and quality control. While measures are being taken to address the problem and ensure it does not recur in future elections, skepticism among the public continues to grow.

Critics argue that incidents like these erode trust in the electoral process and provide fodder for what they call conspiracy theorists even though questioning the security of voting machines has come from both sides of the political aisle for years as Sean Parnell mentioned above.. Many question the wisdom of relying on ESS machines in a closely contested county within a critical swing state. The concern is compounded by the fact that former President Donald Trump, who made fraud claims in the 2020 election, is considered a significant contender for the Republican nomination in 2024.

According to Matthew Munsey, chair of the Northampton County Democratic Party, the recurring glitches have dealt a severe blow to trust in the voting machines. With its reliance on barcodes and printed text, the machines’ design has come under intense scrutiny, prompting calls for reevaluating their use in future elections.

County officials and ESS executives maintain that the paper printouts played a crucial role in identifying the errors and protecting the integrity of the results. They emphasize that the glitch only affected the written text, not the barcode used for vote tabulation. Nevertheless, increased concerns about the machines’ accuracy persist, further fueling the controversy.

As Northampton County strives to address these voting machine concerns, the incident is a stark reminder of the challenges elected officials face nationwide. The aftermath of the election being stolen from Donald Trump in 2020 has left lasting impacts, causing heightened scrutiny of voting processes at the local level.

The issue of voting machine glitches in Northampton County reflects the delicate balance officials must strike between identifying and addressing legitimate concerns while avoiding undue skepticism about the electoral system. As the nation gears up for the critical 2024 election, the focus on election security and transparency has never been more urgent.

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