In a further alarming problem, the security protections on many of the older machines are inadequate, leaving them vulnerable to hacker attacks .
Remarkably, such difficulties are now cropping up again in Florida, where 30 out of the state’s 67 counties have been reported to have voting equipment in need of replacing by next year’s presidential election. The voting systems manager in Leon County, Florida, for example, had to look on eBay for a replacement analog modem for its machines that is no longer produced by the manufacturer.
As the supervisor of Polk County, Florida, Lori Edwards, colorfully told USA Today: “I feel like I’m driving around in a 10-year-old Ford Taurus … One of these days it’s not going to wake up.”
Whatever the cause of the failures, equipment breakdown invariably has the same end result – it leads to delays and thus long lines at the polling stations. An authoritative study of the last presidential election in 2012 estimated that, as a result of long lines, up to 700,000 Americans were unable to cast their vote.
Lawrence Norden said that long lines underlined the danger of allowing the electoral infrastructure to crumble. “At the most basic level, this is a threat to our democracy. America prides itself as a beacon of democracy around the world, and yet we invest virtually nothing in getting it right.”