When Louisiana voters go to the polls to elect a governor in 2019 — if all goes to plan — they will cast their ballots on iPads. Secretary of State Tom Schedler said he’ll ask the incoming administration of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards and the Legislature for money to roll out this new way of voting. The idea was first broached in 2014 by a presidential commission. A few counties, such as Denver and Los Angeles, already are experimenting with it, but Louisiana could become the first state to adopt the new technology. “It is a drastic change. We’re going to take it slow, but this is the best way to go,” Schedler said. His plan is to replace voting machines with tablet computers over the next three years, starting with the big parishes around Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans. This will give time to work out the kinks and train staff, as well as voters, on how it all works. “Money is the big obstacle. But we don’t have a choice,” said Schedler, a Republican who also is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Like most elections officials around the country, Schedler has to replace voting machines. Louisiana has 10,000 of them, all about 15 years old and wearing out quickly. The machines on which voters now cast their ballots are no longer made, and even if he could find replacements on eBay or somewhere, the machines would cost about $5,200 each.
That means the Legislature, in addition to filling a $1.8 billion hole in the budget, would need to find about $150 million to complete the process.
The alternative is shifting to more technologically advanced tablet computers, like the iPad, which cost about $300 each. Schedler estimates — his staff is still working the numbers — the shift will cost about $45 million spread over three years.