With most of Wabasha County’s voting machines about to turn eight years old, Wabasha County Auditor/Treasurer Denise Anderson isn’t taking any chances. Anderson is urging cities and townships to start squirreling away money for when it’s time to replace the machines. “I’ve asked them to start putting money away now, because I feel there is not going to be any (state or federal) money when we need it,” she said. Wabasha County is far from alone when it comes to aging voting machines. A recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that 43 states will be using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old in 2016 — including Minnesota.
DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon is warning that Minnesota needs to act soon before aging voting equipment leads to problems. “It’s serious. I think we’re not quite at the crisis level, but I do believe that we’ve got to act before it becomes that,” Simon said in an interview.
He said vendors estimate electronic voting machines have a useful life of 10 to 15 years, depending on use. Simon wants these machines replaced before problems start, such as a breakdown of equipment on Election Day or a delay in reporting results. Getting those machines replaced is expected to be pricey. Replacing all the aging machines would cost an estimated $28 million, according to an analysis by the Secretary of State’s Office and Minnesota Management and Budget.