Louisiana’s elections will be getting a face-lift over the next few years, with plans underway to replace the state’s decade-old bulky voting machines with sleeker, smaller equipment and beefed-up technology. The request seeking proposals from contractors for new voting machines went out this week, with bids due May 1. The solicitation went out as Secretary of State Tom Schedler learned Louisiana is getting a nearly $6 million federal grant to cover a portion of the costs. The state last purchased voting equipment in 2005. This time, Louisiana will be shopping for new equipment as concerns about cybersecurity threats are heightened and hacking worries have consumed election discussions – and as the state is struggling with repeated financial problems.
Schedler said Louisiana’s nearly 10,000 early and Election Day voting machines are antiquated, with spare parts dwindling and no longer manufactured.
… He hopes to have the voting machine contract awarded by June 30 and all the equipment replaced, through a phased-in process, by 2020. But the price tag is a hefty one.
Schedler estimates the entire replacement project, complete with new equipment and computer software, will cost between $40 million and $60 million. With the federal grant, the state has about $8 million allocated so far. Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed adding another $3 million to the project in next year’s budget, if lawmakers agree.