State in line for new voting machines

Electronic voting machinesMGN

Louisiana voters will soon cast their ballots on new machines thanks to a $5.89 million appropriation from U.S. Congress and the Election Assistance Commission.

The passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 allows unused Help Americans Vote Act dollars to be used for the purchase of new voting equipment, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler said in a news release.

Schedler said he plans to replace about 10,000 early and election day voting machines and replace them with “smaller, more secure, touch screen models.”

He said the equipment will be rolled out in phases over multiple fiscal years, five parishes at a time. The rollout should be complete by 2020.

Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said he hopes Calcasieu will be one of the first five parishes to receive the new machines because the parish last received new machines around 2004. 

While Calcasieu’s 300-plus machines are “really good,” their age is causing many of their parts to become hard to replace.  If they remain in commission for several more years, they may become obsolete, Jones said.

Schedler cited “recent security concerns, including hacking threats, brought to light during the 2016 Presidential Election cycle” as part of the motivation to fight for the funds.  

Jones said security measures for Calcasieu machines include “multiple, automatic backups and printed tickets in case of recalls.”

State legislation is also seeking about $4 million more for the fund.

Schedler said The Consolidated Appropriations Act is a “positive first step,” but said, “there must be additional support in order to increase our cyber security defenses and replace aging voting equipment not just in Louisiana, but nationwide.” 

 

 

 

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