The decision by the State Board of Elections to scrap thousands of touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state’s precincts sent shock waves through Virginia’s community of voter registrars, forcing them to scramble and replace the faulty equipment less than two months ahead of the June 9 primaries. The board on Tuesday imposed a ban on all touchscreen direct recording electronic voting machines of the WinVote model, because the continuing use of the aging devices “creates an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the election process in the commonwealth,” said Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of the state Department of Elections. A review by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency after the Nov. 4 elections had confirmed what computer experts had feared for years — that the WinVote machines may be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Virginia is the only state where WinVote devices are still in use.
Richmond, one of the localities hit hardest by the ban, must now replace 423 of its 426 voting machines, said General Registrar Kirk Showalter. Roanoke County will have to pay about $400,000 to replace more than 70 voting machines in time for the November election.
Montgomery County will have to pay more than $100,000 to buy 30 new machines, and Botetourt County election officials have agreed to borrow three optical scanning voting machines from a company the county is negotiating with to replace all of its machines.
There is little time until voters are set to choose their party nominees in several races, including the Democratic primary in which Del. Joseph Preston, D-Petersburg, is challenging Sen. Rosalyn Dance of Richmond.