By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Election officials in Allegheny County and across the state are running out of time to make a big decision and purchase new voting machines.

Governor Tom Wolf’s directive said it must be done before the 2020 election.

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The Allegheny County Board of Elections held a meeting Friday morning and heard public comment on the issue after releasing the findings of a comprehensive study earlier in the year.

Dozens of people weighed in on what system they thought would be the best fit for voters in the county.

The vast majority urged the board to pick the system with hand-marked ballots to cut down on voter fraud and hacking.

(Photo Credit: Meghan Schiller/KDKA)

“It terrifies me to know how quickly and easily voting machines can be hacked and have been hacked,” said one voter.

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Others warned against systems that turn voting decisions into a printed out bar code because voters cannot read bar codes and verify that it reflects their actual preferences.

“Systems that encode voters preferences in bar codes seriously threaten the entire verifiability mission,” said one voter.

Tim Stevens with the Black Political Empowerment Project urged the board to consider the trustworthiness of the chosen system.

He supported the Hart InterCivic system based on hand-marked paper ballots.

“[The system with the] highest level of transparency, the highest level of ballot secrecy and highest level of showing strong evidence of voters intent,” said Stevens.

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The next scheduled Board of Elections meeting is 4 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the Gold Room on the fourth floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Meghan Schiller