Our View: Conversation about voting machine upgrades overdue

November 17th, 2017 7:00 pm

Diamonds to Luzerne County Election Director Marisa Crispell for being up-front and transparent about issues with electronic voting machines. For old-timers, hearing the machines purchased in 2006 are already showing their age is likely further proof they just don’t make things the way they used to, particularly considering those antique manual booths they replaced seemed to hang around for eons. But technology progresses rapidly, and new machines are in order not only because the current models are starting to glitch, but because updates would presumably be more secure from hacking and could provide a paper trail to help confirm votes tallied were the votes cast if results ever did become suspect. The county, the state and the nation need to have a real conversation about the need for periodic upgrades of our election machinery.

Coal, along the same lines, to state and federal politicians who don’t get the importance of securing recurring funding for the election equipment upgrades needed here and, doubtless, many other places. The old, heavy, clunky lever machines replaced in 2006 had actually been around since the 1930s, and they replaced the oldest secret-ballot technology known: The paper ballot box. The only way the county was able to afford the current touch-screen machines was through a $3.6 million federal grant. This isn’t a call for endless spending on every election machine gizmo that comes down the pike. But democracy warrants regular upgrades to the equipment necessary to make it work, and that responsibility should not fall, piecemeal, on the shoulders of cash-strapped county governments.

Diamonds to the many tributes to veterans staged by area institutions in the past weeks. Wilkes University students recorded interviews with veterans, then feted them at the annual Heroes Brunch. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center put together a stirring tribute including a song by Madison Dompkosky, Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen 2017. Wyoming Valley West Middle School students thanked veterans in person, and Dallas Elementary School students thanked them in letters. It’s particularly encouraging to see these efforts extended to young people. In a time when the all-volunteer Army means only about 0.4 percent of Americans actually serve, making sure people appreciate their duty is essential.

Coal to the Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association for flatly rejecting the idea of paying part of the cost of an external review of the rancorous city police situation. The review, approved by city council, is intended to find a solution to growing discontent on both sides of the problem. PBA President Sgt. Phil Myers’ decision to put all the blame on Mayor Tony George may play well with rank-and-file officers, but it is a poor position to take before the review even begins. A small contribution toward the review cost would be a sign of good faith, and would show the union wants an end to the friction regardless of where the blame lies.

— Times Leader

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