A resident walks near a polling place in East Liberty on May 21, 2019. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Allegheny County’s $20 million deal for a new voting system moves forward, but plans on installing and training are still in the works

Update (1/24/2020): The Allegheny County Board of Elections will meet at 2 p.m. on Feb. 11 to discuss the rollout of new voting machines and training for poll workers for the April 28 primary election. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in Conference Room 1 in the Allegheny County Courthouse at 436 Grant St. Allegheny County voters who head to the polls in three months for the primary election will cast their votes on a new $13.4 million system that largely relies on hand-marked paper ballots. 

The change from electronic machines, in place since 2006, includes an additional $6.6 million for software, updates and training. Many security experts consider paper ballots to be more secure because they create a paper trail and voters don’t have to rely on a computer to accurately reflect their votes.

Pittsburgh Chief of Police Scott Schubert after speaking to City Council about a new body camera and Taser contract.

Pittsburgh City Council considers $10.9 million purchase of police body cameras, Tasers with scant information

The Pittsburgh City Council is poised to approve a $10.9 million contract to purchase 950 body cameras and 950 Tasers to equip the entire police force with upgraded equipment. 

The city originally entered into a $1.5 million contract with Axon in 2017 for 550 body cameras. In January, council voted to increase that contract amount to $2.3 million to outfit more officers with cameras. If council approves the new $10.9 million proposed contract at its 10 a.m. Monday meeting, those cameras and the current contract will be replaced with little public scrutiny from council members. The proposed contract to last through 2024 is a notable extension of business with a company whose previous engagement with the city has been scrutinized. The city approved the original contract without seeking competitive bids and involved a Pittsburgh police official with ties to Axon. 

Though the city’s first batch of police body cameras are two years old or newer, the technology is evolving rapidly.