Virginia localities may continue to use touch-screen voting machines at the polls beyond the 2014 election. A proposal that would have forced precincts to replace the touch-screen machines, also known as direct recording electronic machines, with optical scan tabulators by November was defeated this morning in the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Several panel members voiced concern with the financial burden. Some lawmakers prefer optical scan machines because they preserve a paper record of the ballots. The measure, sponsored by Del. David Ramadan, R-Loudoun, would have created a fund to help localities cover half of the cost of new tabulators. Under current law, local electoral boards are not permitted to replace old DREs with new equipment but they are allowed to use their old machines as long as they keep them operating.
Ramadan said that his proposal followed up on a policy the board started in 2004 which says that “DRE machines are out, and we shouldn’t buy new ones.”
“If we don’t pass this, localities will have dead machines in their hands in less than five years,” Ramadan said. “But if we do this, we’ll help them out by giving them some money and helping them to have a reliable voting process.”
Ramadan’s measure was defeated by a 11-10 vote.