Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Monday there is one major thing the federal government could do to help improve elections in Ohio: give the state the tens of millions of dollars it needs to upgrade or replace its aging voting machines. “Our machines are old – they’re wearing out,” Husted told a conference on the 2012 election sponsored by the Pew Center on the States. “We can’t run an … election system on the cheap.”
Like most states, Ohio in the mid-2000s relied on the $3 billion in federal money from the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help buy voting machines still in use. Experts say the electronic voting systems have an effective life of six to 10 years, meaning that many are near the time when they either need to be replaced or will start becoming expensive and difficult to maintain. The law “got us addicted to these machines, and now they’re getting old,” Husted said.
But secretaries of states from across the nation, election experts, voting rights advocates and others attending the two-day conference agree that federal budget realities of 2012 make it highly unlikely that Washington will again offer the kind of extensive financial aid.