Commissioners schedule public training on Dauphin County's new voting system

HARRISBURG, PA (March 9, 2020) Ahead of the April 28 primary election, when voters in Dauphin County will see a new hand-marked paper ballot system, the commissioners have scheduled public training sessions across the county to familiarize residents with the equipment.

The new Clear Ballot paper system, which was purchased by the commissioners after a lengthy review, is easy to use but is a significant change from the electronic machines residents have used for decades. Voters will use a pen to mark their ballot and then be able to review it before inserting it into a high-speed scanner, which tabulates the ballot and stores them in a secure container.

“We want to give residents an opportunity to learn about the new system before they go to vote,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “Presidential primaries and general elections always have the highest turnout, and we are doing all we can to make the voting process as smooth and efficient as it was with our previous system.’’

All precincts will also have at least one electronic ballot marking device that is fully accessible to voters with disabilities. After entering their selections on the screen, the voter will have the opportunity to review his or her choices on a printed ballot before they enter the ballot into the scanner. Voters with disabilities may have an assistant of their choosing accompany them to help cast their ballot.

“We took our time to make sure we purchased a system that we believe is both accurate and secure as well as easy to use,’’ Commissioner Mike Pries, who oversees the county elections office, said. “Last year, we had an expo where voters were able to try out various systems, and Clear Ballot’s was among the top two choices.’’

The mandate to buy new voting systems came after the Wolf administration in 2018 settled a lawsuit filed by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein following the 2016 election. While Stein didn’t prove there were problems with Pennsylvania’s existing systems, Wolf agreed to require the state’s 67 counties use voter-verifiable paper ballots by the 2020 election.

“Voting is the bedrock of our democracy, and we are doing all we can to ensure a seamless election process,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “Our elections office, poll workers and volunteers are committed, and we ask the public’s patience as we all adapt to the new system.’’

The following public voting system training sessions, which will include instruction on the paper system and the ADA accessible electronic ballot marking device. Unless otherwise indicated, training sessions will last one hour.

East Shore Area Library, 4501 Ethel St, Harrisburg, PA 17109 (Lower Paxton Township)

  • Wednesday, March 25 at 6:00 pm
  • Saturday, April 11 at 2:00 pm

Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library, 2410 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17110

  • Saturday, March 28 at 12:00 pm
  • Tuesday, March 31 at 5:00 pm

Elizabethville Area Library, 80 N Market St, Elizabethville, PA 17023

  • Tuesday, April 7 at 6:00 pm
  • Saturday, April 11 at 1:00 pm

Middletown Library,  202 N. Catherine St., Middletown

  • Thursday on March 26 at 6 p.m.
  • Saturday April 4 at 2 p.m.

Hershey Public Library, 701 Cocoa Ave., Hershey

  • Thursday, April 2 at 6 p.m.

ADA Accessibility Training at CMU, 1100 S. Cameron Street, Harrisburg

  • Tuesday, April 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In addition to these trainings, county officials are unveiling a website with short training videos, instructions on how to vote by mail and other information that voters need to know at