Before hundreds of thousands of S.C. Republican voters head to the polls Saturday for their party’s presidential primary, poll workers will be setting out roughly 13,000 voting machines that were purchased more than a decade ago — in 2004. Those machines have a life expectancy of about 15 years, meaning they should be OK Saturday. However, the S.C. Election Commission is asking lawmakers for $41.5 million for a new voting machines. “We’re still confident in our current voting system,” said Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. But, Whitmire added, the voting machines are kind of like a family car — it’s not a good idea to wait until it breaks down to start the search for a replacement.
Roughly $1 million has been set aside for the new voting machines in past state budgets. This year, Gov. Nikki Haley put $20 million for new machines in her executive budget proposal, unveiled last month. Haley suggests spending another $20 million next year.
State Sen. Ronnie Cromer, the Newberry Republican who chairs the Senate budget subcommittee that will consider the voting-machine proposals, says the Election Commission’s request for $41.5 million likely will not be fully funded this year. “We’ve got enough other leaking holes in the dike that we need to plug up.”