Don’t expect Congress to shell out any money when it comes to replacing aging voting equipment. That’s what Christy McCormick, chairwoman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), says her agency is telling state and local election officials, even though a bipartisan presidential commission warned last year of an “impending crisis.” “We’re telling them that, from what we understand, there won’t be any more federal funding coming to help them,” McCormick said in an interview with NPR. And that’s a problem because election officials around the country are worried about breakdowns as voting machines purchased after the 2000 presidential election near the end of their useful lives. Much of the equipment is already outdated. Some officials have even had to resort to sites such as eBay to find spare parts. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that it will cost about $1 billion to buy replacement machines. But state and local budgets are tight. And Congress has shown no sign that it’s willing to foot the bill as it did more than a decade ago, when punch-card voting equipment was replaced nationwide.
McCormick says for now, the EAC is offering election officials tips on how to maintain the equipment they do have, at least to get them through the 2016 presidential election — a little like keeping an old car running until you can afford a new one.
“We’re providing checklists of preventive maintenance tips and things that they can do for their equipment that will address issues before they happen, so we aren’t dealing with a crisis on Election Day,” she said.