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Connecticut Works to Get New Voting Tech Online for 2024

A planned overhaul of Connecticut's aging election infrastructure with more than 3,000 new tabulators may not be ready in time for the 2024 elections unless officials move soon to approve funds for the machines.

(TNS) — A planned overhaul of Connecticut's aging election infrastructure with the purchase of more than 3,000 new tabulators may not be ready in time for the 2024 elections unless officials move soon to approve borrowing for the machines, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas says.

A proposed $24.5 million bond package to purchase new equipment and train poll workers — authorized by lawmakers in June — is awaiting final approval from the State Bond Commission, which has not met in over two months.

While records show that the commission rarely holds meetings in late summer, the decision to cancel its meeting on Aug. 25 has left the state in a pinch when it comes to planning for the upcoming election year, Thomas warned.

"Time is not on our side," Thomas told CT Insider in a text message. "September may be possible, but it would take extraordinarily good fortune to implement in time for the 2024 presidential election after that date."

Thomas, a Democrat, explained in a subsequent interview last week that once the state receives the OK to borrow the money to purchase tabulators, it must solicit bids from the limited number of companies that manufacture election equipment. During the evaluation of those bids, Thomas said she will seek the input from local election officials, giving them an opportunity to "see, touch and feel the machines."

Once an applicant is selected, Thomas said the timing of the rollout will depend on the winning company's ability to manufacture and deliver the machines throughout Connecticut.

"I'm not exactly sure how many months that will take, but sooner is going to be better than later to allow for any glitches or any inventory issues that transpire," Thomas said.

The secretary added that her office hopes to introduce the machines during the state primary election next August, giving election workers an opportunity to work with the new equipment before the general election in November.

At this point, she said it is too late to consider rolling out the new equipment in time for the presidential primary in April.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Lamont said that he was not concerned about the Bond Commission's lack of action, adding that his chief of staff, Jonathan Dach, was engaged in discussions with Thomas' office about the planned upgrades.

"How many machines do we need? What's the timing on this?" said Lamont, who also serves as chairman of the Bond Commission. "They're old and creaky. We're going to get this right."

Connecticut's current stock of vote tabulators date back to the mid-2000s, and poll workers have complained that they are prone to problems such as paper jams, which can slow the counting. The company that manufactured those machines is out of business, adding to the headache of getting them repaired.

The latest models of tabulators on the market offer digital touch screens that can immediately warn voters of a potential error, such as if they selected more than once choice for a particular race. Thomas said they are also equipped with additional security measures and scanning technology designed to streamline the vote-counting process.

The Bond Commission's next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29, though the final agenda for the meeting has not been published.

© 2023 the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.