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Most Voting Equipment Has Been Around Longer than iPhones

Why the majority of voting systems in the U.S. are more than a decade old.

by / June 11, 2018
Data source: GAO study of voting equipment used in the 2016 general election. Government Navigator/Center for Digital Government

The 2000 presidential election was, to put it mildly, a little messy.

So in 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act requiring states to adhere to new standards for voting systems. It also created a vehicle to funnel billions of dollars to the states to buy new equipment, which led to a rush of purchasing.

Those machines still make up the majority of voting equipment today.

According to an analysis of voting systems used in the 2016 elections by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 51 percent of those machines were purchased between 2002 and 2006. That makes them older than the oldest iPhones.

Another 5 percent of machines were purchased before 2002. 

The Election Assistance Commission, created through HAVA, is still around and continues to send money out for the purchase of new voting equipment. This year, Congress used it to send money to the states for election security purposes as well.

Money for new voting equipment is typically not easy to get for state and local elections officials, so it's unclear when that glut of decade-old machines will begin to dissipate. But many election administrators report using machines that are no longer being sold commercially, and for which replacement parts are hard to find. So eventually, if funding doesn't come through, it's likely some of those machines will more or less fall apart.

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