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Project

Voting Machines & Infrastructure

Outdated voting machines and technical glitches can lead to long lines, lost votes, and can pose major security risks. We must invest in our election infrastructure to protect the integrity of our elections.

Overview

Amer­ica’s voting machines are rapidly aging out. All but a hand­ful of states are currently using voting equip­ment that is no longer manu­fac­tured. Juris­dic­tions that use machines that are no longer produced face heightened secur­ity risks and chal­lenges when trying to main­tain them, includ­ing diffi­culty find­ing replace­ment parts.

In 2018, 41 states used equip­ment that was at least 10 years old, increas­ing the risk of fail­ures and crashes. Tech­no­lo­gical glitches can lead to long lines and lost votes on Elec­tion Day. And older machines can pose unac­cept­able secur­ity risks, because they were not tested to current secur­ity stand­ards or are running on unsup­por­ted soft­ware that does not receive secur­ity patches. With foreign interests attempt­ing to hack U.S. voting infra­struc­ture, includ­ing machines and regis­tra­tion data­bases, upgrad­ing these systems is crit­ical to protect­ing the integ­rity of our elec­tions.

Poor ballot design and instruc­tions can also contrib­ute to prob­lems at the polls, such as long lines, confu­sion, and lost votes — tens of thou­sands in nearly every elec­tion year. These issues dispro­por­tion­ately affect low-income voters, new voters, and elderly voters. The Bren­nan Center’s research outlines simple meas­ures elec­tion offi­cials can take to cure these design defects and ensure every voter can cast a ballot that counts.

The Bren­nan Center has researched Amer­ica’s voting machine crisis and iden­ti­fied ways to make equip­ment more access­ible, secure, and easy to use. We proposed a national clear­ing­house of machine prob­lems that could help catch fail­ures before they happen, better prepare poll work­ers for Elec­tion Day issues, and ensure all votes are coun­ted accur­ately and fairly.  

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