Freeholders approve contract to replace voting machines

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — In order to ensure the integrity of future Essex County elections, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution Jan. 7 approving the purchase of new voting machines that will provide optical scanners and paper ballots guaranteeing a secure and safe process. 

In the wake of allegations of voter tampering and in context of the 2016 election that many believed was hijacked, protective measures guarding the integrity of the voting process needed to be implemented, according to a press release from the freeholders. Additionally, further information supports the vulnerability that electronic voting machines may potentially compromise the voting process. Voting machines with paper ballots that are read by optical scanners are said to be the least vulnerable to a cyberattack and offer a paper record that can be audited for further safeguarding. For the last year and a half, several voter advocacy groups, including SOMA Action’s Voting Rights Committee and BlueWaveNJ, have come before the board with their concerns and recommendations.

“Voting machines are the infrastructure of our democracy. The vote by the freeholders on Tuesday evening was a victory for democracy. The SOMA Action Voter Rights Committee is gratified and encouraged, not only by the result, but also by the process by which it was achieved. Citizens advocated and educated; public officials listened and acted. This is the way democracy should work,” said David Harris, co-chairman of SOMA Action Voter Rights.

Dominion Voting Systems Inc. won the $3.8 million contract upon the recommendation of the Office of the Commissioner of Registration and Superintendent of Elections. 

“I wholeheartedly support Essex County purchasing voting machines that will employ the use of optical scanners and hand-written ballots to ensure the integrity of our voting process is protected,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said.