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Aging Voting Machines Cost Local, State Governments


A poll worker and voters using electronic voting machiness in Columbus, OH.

Cash-strapped state and local governments are wrestling with the high costs of replacing outdated electronic voting machines with newer models.

Credit: The Associated Press

Many U.S. voters are still relying on outdated electronic voting machines at least 10 years old, which raises the specter of massive voter disenfranchisement in the event of breakdowns.

However, cash-strapped state and local governments are wrestling with the high costs of replacing the systems with newer models, while some officials and lawmakers are concerned the new machines could be hacked to perpetrate voter fraud.

States such as Maryland are opting for electronically scanning paper ballots, and although optical scanners are expensive, relatively few need to be procured as a single device can be used for each polling place.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County has set aside $70 million to create a voting system that uses touchscreens to cast ballots.

Verified Voting president Pamela Smith estimates approximately 25 percent of U.S. voters will use electronic voting systems this year, versus 30 percent to 40 percent in years past.

A report from the Brennan Center for Justice says officials in at least 31 states want to acquire new voting systems within five years, but at least 22 are uncertain of how to pay for it. The center estimates it would cost more than $1 billion to replacing existing machines.

From Stateline
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