The center discovered that at least 31 states have recognized they need to buy new voting machines within the next five years, yet, of those, 22 said they had no idea how they were going to pay for them. The jurisdictions with equipment reaching the end of its natural lifespan cover about 40 million registered voters, and account for 387 of the 538 electoral college votes that decide the presidency.
In a further stark finding, Brennan found that 43 states are using machines that by election day next year will be at least 10 years old, while 14 states will have machines at least 15 years old. Bearing in mind that today’s iteration of voting equipment is computer-driven, the technology is aging fast. Lawrence Norden, co-author of the Brennan report, said that voting machines were no different from laptops in the sense that they rarely survived for 15 years. “That’s what we are seeing today with voting machines – we are reaching the end of their lifetime.”
Norden said that despite the nationwide scope of the problem, little was being invested in finding a solution. “No one is expressing any interest in paying for new machines. Congress has shown absolutely no interest in doing so.”
He went on: “We wouldn’t do this with anything else – you wouldn’t wait for your fire truck to breakdown before replacing it.”
The risks involved in conducting a presidential election with flakey technology in one of the globe’s largest and most complex democracies were amply displayed in 2000. The nail-bitingly close contest between Bush and Al Gore went down to the wire in Florida, where recounts were ordered because of failing paper-based punch machines.