South Carolina is just beginning to shop for new voting machines — and a new report found many other states should do the same. New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice released a report last week saying when Americans head to the polls for next year’s presidential election, 43 states, including South Carolina, will be using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old. The cost of updating them could exceed $1 billion. Many of the increasingly outdated machines were bought with federal money not long after the infamous “hanging chad” controversy in Florida helped determine the 2000 presidential election. “No one expects a laptop to last for 10 years. How can we expect these machines, many of which were designed and engineered in the 1990s, to keep running without increased failures?” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Center’s Democracy Program and co-author of the study.
The biggest risk in waiting, the study found, is that machines will continue to fail and malfunction, increasing lines and undermining public confidence in elections, the study said.
Earlier this year, South Carolina election officials held a day-long event in Columbia to hear from vendors and begin the process of updating its electronic voting machines. However, the State Election Commission has said it hopes to replace its more than 12,500 voting machines by 2017.
Ultimately, the Brennan report said, states and jurisdictions with outdated equipment should set up contingency plans for November 2016.