Boone County’s aging voting equipment will need to be replaced in the next couple of years, and the estimated $1 million expense — once covered in the past by the federal government — solely will be the county’s responsibility. The Help America Vote Act of 2002, which reformed the U.S. voting process, awarded Boone County $888,700 more than a decade ago to purchase new equipment, including software, ballot counting equipment known as M100 machines and iVote machines, or the touchscreen ballots accessible through the American Disabilities Act.
The county’s voting equipment, which has a 10-year lifespan, has experienced an increasing number of errors in recent years and needs to be replaced, said Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks. Burks, appointed to the position in late July by Gov. Eric Greitens, said his office did not have enough time to meet the 2018 budget request deadline on Sept. 30 to find funding for replacement equipment next year. But he expects to have a plan for 2019.
Former Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren, who helped craft the Help America Vote Act, advocated the federal government help cover costs for equipment necessary to fulfill mandates in the legislation.
Noren said there are no signs the federal government will help local governments replace voting equipment and some Missouri counties already have replaced old equipment. Maintenance and operating expenses only add to costs after equipment purchases.
“It’s very difficult on some jurisdictions. It’s difficult on everybody,” she said, referring to finding ways to pay for equipment. “There’s no question about that.“