Report: Election Machines Retrofit Would Cost $17M - WSPA.com

Report: Election Machines Retrofit Would Cost $17M

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An audit of the state Elections Commission shows it would cost more than $17 million to retrofit South Carolina's existing electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail. An audit of the state Elections Commission shows it would cost more than $17 million to retrofit South Carolina's existing electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail.
COLUMBIA, S.C. -

A new report from the Legislative Audit Council says retrofitting South Carolina's current voting machines with paper printouts to allow voters to verify their votes would cost more than $17 million.

The State Election Commission says a paper printout, called a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail, or VVPAT, was not available when the state bought the current voting machines in 2004. Spokesman Chris Whitmire says it wouldn't make financial sense to add the printout capability to machines that are going to be replaced in the next few years.

The audit says, "Without paper ballots, the reconstruction of the votes cast is not possible."

However, it also says, "It brings in the factor of human error and adding an additional counter has been found to produce errors as well. If VVPAT ballots are unable to be easily counted without error, it is not fulfilling its role as a reliable audit system."

But Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, House Minority Leader, says the state doesn't have to add the paper printout capability to current voting machines. "I think that you can set up a system of iPads or mini-iPads in voting precincts that could also not only give you a paper ballot, but could also transmit back to the Election Commission immediately as soon as the election were closed and tell people how many people had voted immediately. "

He says the system would be like the small credit card readers that some business people now use to accept credit card payments through their smartphones. "Let's say you had 10 iPads in a polling precinct. Then you give each individual (voter) a card. They use that card to swipe, same way you would a credit card. They would then tally the votes that way. You could do things that way rather than having to come up with this $17 million figure to print receipts," Rutherford says.

Whitmire says the State Election Commission is asking state lawmakers for $5 million in seed money in next year's budget to start saving up for a new voting system. There's no way to know how much the system will cost because whatever system the state decides to buy likely doesn't exist yet.  The federal Election Assistance Commission, which decides on federal election standards, doesn't have any commissioners, so voting system manufacturers are waiting to see what those standards will be before they come up with new systems.

 

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