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susquehanna county voting machine.jpg

Photo by Submitted

Susquehanna County recently bought these voting machines that voters will use in November. (Submitted photo)

(Harrisburg) — A national cyber security expert says the state legislature must find the money to upgrade Pennsylvania’s voting system ahead of the 2020 election.

Anthony Shaffer is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and intelligence officer who now works for a conservative think tank.

At a state capitol news conference Tuesday, he warned Pennsylvania, as a swing state, is a target for foreign agents looking to sow doubt in the next election.

But he noted adversaries typically look for easy prey.

“So, if Russia, if China sees the state of Pennsylvania is doing something, they’re probably going to go to another state and take another target which they perceive as less able to defend itself or less prepared,” Shaffer said. 

He added the legislature needs the proper funding, technology, and perception to protect the state’s voting system.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s budget includes $75 million over five years to help counties replace their electronic voting machines with ones that leave a paper trail.

But the total cost of the mandated change is upwards of $125 million.

Shaffer urged lawmakers to make up the difference.

“What is the safety of their vote worth? What is that sacred rite worth, as we go into the next critical election cycle?” Shaffer said. “I would argue it’s worth a lot more than $75 million over five years.”