Efforts by hackers to infiltrate elections systems in Arizona and Illinois this summer, and the successful hack of the Democratic National Committee emails – allegedly by Russians – have officials and voters on edge as the Nov. 8 election nears. “It causes panic in the public,” said Tim Mattice, executive director of The Election Center, which represents 1,300 state and local election officials and vendors. “People think, ‘Oh my goodness … my vote is not going to count.” Statements by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, that only a rigged result could cost him the election have brought a strong response from officials like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who runs elections in the state. “Donald Trump is wrong when he says the election is being rigged,” said Husted, a fellow Republican. “It’s a ridiculous notion.”
… Some elections officials are growing increasingly concerned about aging voting machines causing Election Day malfunctions, such as vote flipping on poorly calibrated touch screens that cause people to cast unintended votes. “Technology has changed dramatically in the last decade, but America’s voting machines are rapidly aging out,” said a 2015 report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
The current crop of voting machines is mostly a mix of electronic touch screen and optical scanning equipment used with printed ballots. Much of the equipment dates to 2006, when federal funding covered much of the cost after punch ballots went out of favor in the wake of the disputed 2000 presidential election and the famous “hanging chads.”
But unlike punch ballots – essentially a paper ballot loaded into a plastic frame – the new voting equipment is electronic and has a shelf-life. Replacing the equipment could cost an estimated $1 billion nationwide, according to the Brennan Center, and officials say there is no federal money in sight.
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