Decade-old voting equipment is quickly aging in nearly half the state’s counties, and there has been a struggle at the local level to secure money to cover the replacement costs. Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he will meet next month with local supervisors of election in Orlando to determine which counties are most in need of new equipment before the 2016 elections. “It’s kind of one of those things that you don’t think about until something happens,” Detzner said this week. “We know we need to do something.” Detzner estimated that about 30 counties might need new equipment or upgrades, but he declined to specify the counties. There is no statewide accounting of equipment needs by county. Calls to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office were not returned Tuesday, but Palm Beach County acquired its current voting machines, an optical scanning system, six years ago. Before 2008, the county used a touch-screen voting system, which drew criticism because it left no paper trail. The touch-screen system, in turn, was the county’s answer to the 2000 election that brought national ridicule because of the Butterfly Ballot and problems with punch-card chads.
… Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland, the association president, expects Detzner to come out of the meeting next month with a list of counties that are most at risk of running elections that could fail without new equipment.
“He has the authority to decertify equipment,” Holland said. “He can easily tell the county commissions, ‘Listen this equipment is not worthy of going forward.’ Then the county supervisors have the ability to go to their county commissioners and say ‘It’s not a luxury but a necessity.’ “
… “You can get through an election without the latest technology, but the problem is you then have a competence factor,” Holland said. “The voter starts asking, ‘Why couldn’t I put my ballot in the machine? What are they going to do with my ballot if they couldn’t tabulate it the (polling) location?’ Those issues erode confidence in an election. That’s why you don’t want go to the point where you’re equipment is faulty.”