If your smartphone battery dies, it’s frustrating, but you can find a land line somewhere. Or if your car’s backup camera goes down, you can always turn around and look out of the rear window — the way it was done in the early 2000s. But if the vintage 2004 voting machine on which you cast your vote goes haywire or, worse, records your vote wrong, your options are much more limited, especially in South Carolina where electronic votes are not backed up by a paper trail. And with foreign powers eager to interfere with our elections and some U.S. politicians casting doubts on the integrity of our elections, South Carolina must not put off any longer replacing its aging, trouble-prone voting machines with new ones that use the most sophisticated security capabilities and efficiency available.
The machines used in South Carolina have a life expectancy of 15 years. That means it would be irresponsible to count on them for voting in 2020. Indeed, state election officials have been asking legislators for six years to find the money for 13,000 new touchscreen machines – the kind that produce paper records. Lawmakers have set aside $5 million, but that’s only a small step toward the $65 million price tag.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, has said he expects the money will be allocated from $177 million left over from the 2017-18 fiscal year. And, he said, new voting machines should be up and running for the general election in 2020. His colleagues would make a big mistake if they fail to back him up.