U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced the Verifying Optimal Tools for Elections Act (VOTE Act) last Friday, which would create a $125 million grant program to replace aging voting machines in precincts across the nation.
In addition to upgrading outdated machines, the VOTE Act would allocate funds specifically for educational resources for election officials and incentivize states to develop open-source technology, such as those used in Los Angeles, California and Travis County, Texas, through another grant program.
“We applaud Congressman Johnson, the first member of Congress to introduce a solution to the looming voting technology crisis,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “The VOTE Act proposes common sense solutions that would have immediate impact for many precincts that are struggling to find funds to replace outdated and aging equipment.”
“The longer we wait to invest in our voting machine infrastructure, the more problems we will face,” Johnson said in a statement.
During this year’s presidential election, 43 states will be using machines that are at least 10 years old, near the end of their lifespan, according to a 2015 study on voting machine technology by the Brennan Center’s Lawrence Norden and Christopher Famighetti. The analysis found jurisdictions in at least 31 states want to purchase new voting machines before 2020, but officials in 22 of these states did not know where they would get the funds for them. Problems are already cropping up in primaries, with broken machines contributing to long waits at polling places.