Thousands of voting machines used for elections across Georgia are at least 13 years old and dangerously close to becoming outdated, according to a recent national report documenting the age of machines used across the nation. State officials, however, say voters should have no doubts that they are maintained well and in good working order. They also don’t plan to replace them any time soon, despite concerns from both local election officials and voting advocates that Georgia needs to start planning for an overhaul that could cost millions of dollars. “We have done a very good job taking care of this equipment,” said Merle S. King, who leads the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. The center since 2002 has worked on behalf of the state to oversee the operation of the machines and make sure the intricate web of Georgia’s voting system performs smoothly for every federal, state and county election held across the state.
As it happened, 2002 was also the year Georgia adopted a uniform voting system. Every county uses the same equipment and procedures, a process King and local election officials say has streamlined the process.
When the state adopted the strategy, officials bought 20,000 machines — what in the industry are called “direct-recording electronic” voting machines, or DREs, known by voters for their touchscreens. Those machines by and large are still used statewide, although more have been purchased since.