In the past 20 years, Tippecanoe County has spent more than $1.5 million upgrading its voting technology, transitioning from pull-lever machines to modern touch-screen devices. Even so, some observers say the new technology hasn’t removed the potential for vote-counting chaos that marred the 2000 presidential election. A look at voting technology in Tippecanoe County. Dec. 12, 1978: Tippecanoe County Clerk Sarah Brown proposes switching from pull-lever voting machines to computer punch cards. One reason, she says, is the expense of moving 90 voting machines the size of upright pianos into and out of precincts at election time — $10,000 that year alone ($35,000 in 2012 dollars).
July 27, 1981: Tippecanoe County commissioners approve a $122,355 contract to purchase a punch-card voting system from Computer Elections Systems of Indianapolis. Nov. 2, 1982: The county’s new punch-card system stumbles in its general election debut. Election officials stay up all night trying to coax punch cards through the card reader. A technician from Columbus, Ohio, arrives the following morning. Results are announced by noon Wednesday.
April 18, 1985: Newton County Superior Court Judge Mark Bauer bans punch-card elections after a hand recount reveals that hundreds of votes went uncounted in the county’s November 1984 election. Meanwhile, a bill moves through the Indiana General Assembly that calls for a ban on punch-card voting systems in 50 Indiana counties that don’t already have them.