Despite Congress’s agreement last week to spend $380 million to help states replace voting machines that don’t produce a paper trail, it’s likely that tens of thousands of voters will cast their ballots in this year’s midterm elections on outdated equipment that the Department of Homeland Security has called a “national security concern.” That’s because the newly approved money will be allocated to all 50 states instead of just those that have the greatest need to replace voting machines. Thirteen states use voting machines that can’t be audited because they don’t produce a paper trail to check against the machine’s electronic tabulations. Of those, only two would receive enough funding under the recent appropriation to replace all their machines; the rest could replace only a fraction of what they need. For example, the funding would cover less than half the cost of what it would take for Pennsylvania — a state whose results were critical to the outcome of the 2016 presidential race — to replace all of its outdated machines.
…Other states where the new funding would meet less than half their needs include Indiana, Georgia, and Mississippi, according to a study by the Brennan Center and Verified Voting, a nonprofit that studies voting machines in the US. For Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, it would cover some, but not all costs, the study said.
In South Carolina, where no voting machine produces a paper trail, the money would come nowhere near replacing all the equipment in the state — something the state insists is necessary to maintain uniform voting standards. That means the state will not buy any new machines until it has the money to replace all machines. The new federal funding would cover less than half the cost.
… Based on previous sales records, Verified Voting estimates that it costs between $6,200 and $10,000 to replace all the machines in a precinct. With every state having thousands of precincts, the expenditure is enormous. The money from the omnibus bill would cover only 15% to 24% of the costs for replacing machines in all of Louisiana’s 3,904 precincts and New Jersey’s 6,385 precincts.