Missouri could largely reduce the number of electronic voting machines it uses at election polls and instead rely heavily on the traditional paper ballots method. A Senate committee could vote this week on the proposal sponsored by State Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring. He says his measure would create a double layer of protection by having a physical record of each vote. “This would slowly phase them (machines) out upon life cycle replacement or mechanical failure,” he says. “So we’re not going to require anybody who has electronic devices to arbitrarily replace something that still has a useful lifespan.” Eigel says his legislation would still allow polling locations to be equipped with devices that could serve disabled voters. Phillip Michaels of eastern Missouri’s University City has built computer systems for large and small companies. He says St. Louis County has about 1,500 electronic machines and Eigel’s bill would have real savings.
“The machines cost $5,000 apiece, roughly. When the time comes that they need to replace the machines, sometime in the future, they won’t need as many machines,” he says. “Now 1,000 machines at $5,000 apiece, that’s $5 million. That’ll buy 25 years of paper ballots.
Election officials must start setting up machines days in advance and run several testing measures on them before Election Day. Michaels cites the operational costs increasing since 2006 – when electronic voting machines launched in St. Louis County.