To promote democracy around the world, the United States spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually in developing nations. But when it comes to the mechanics of democracy itself in the United States, some don’t even want to pony up $9.6 million. That’s the budget for the obscure, 25-employee Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Created by Congress in 2002, the bipartisan EAC is meant to be a resource for states and localities on election administration. That means everything from designing ballots, to procedures and manuals on election administration, to maintaining voting machines. And lest anyone believe that this is the big hand of the federal government reaching down to something controlled by states and counties, all the EAC does is set guidelines and advise. It does not enforce laws.
In fact, the EAC’s role is critically important right now. In the same legislation that created the EAC, Congress appropriated $2 billion to the states to upgrade their voting machines. Virtually all of them did so. It was a necessary step after the 2000 election debacle. Failing punch cards and lever machines were replaced with newer systems that were more accurate, and that had the added benefit of allowing millions of voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently for the first time.
The problem is these machines are reaching (or have reached) the end of their lifespan. Unlike the mechanical lever machines of years ago, today’s machines were not intended to last decades. No one expects a laptop computer to last 10 years. It’s no different with an electronic voting machine.
The Presidential Commission on Election Administration identified this problem last year when it warned there is an “impending crisis … from the widespread wearing out of voting machines purchased a decade ago.” In testimony before the Commission, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted noted, “The next time we go to the polls to elect a president, these machines will be 12 years old. That’s a lifetime when it comes to technology.”
Full Article: The coming voting machine crisis | TheHill.