Marion County Clerk: Current voting machines on last legs, must be replaced soon
White: Machine breakdown would be disaster
Last Updated: 48 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - Marion County Clerk Beth White says the voting machines that have been used for the last decade are on their last legs.
She wants them replaced before they fall apart and cause an election disaster where votes can't be cast or counted.
If a voting machine breaks down while a voter is using it, it won't strand a voter along the road like a malfunctioning car, but it could cost a voter the precious right to vote.
Both parties are asking for preemptive action to prevent such a disruption.
Marion County's current voting equipment was installed in 2003 at a cost of about $10.5 million.
That includes 1,350 pieces of optical scan and touch-screen machines in the precincts and the tabulating equipment at the Board of Elections warehouse.
White said 10 years is an eternity in the electronics business, and most of that equipment is no longer even serviced by vendors.
"You think about the electronic equipment you might be using at home," said White. "Maybe your phone, or your tablet, or a computer. 12 years ago, it was very different, if you had a tablet at all. So we really need to do something proactive. You know, it's like a car. You can keep driving your car until it leaves you on the side of the road. Or you can think forward-thinking and think about what we might need to do next."
White said pushing the current equipment further carries a real risk of a breakdown that could cause a voting disaster, and it will cost money to replace it.
She believes it would be irresponsible to keep going and hope the machinery keeps working.
"We are a large jurisdiction, 600 precincts, about 600,000 registered voters. So we would need a pretty comprehensive system. We're looking now at what that's going to mean. And we estimate between $12 million and $15 million."
Six companies will make presentations to the board, which will then decide on a plan to present to the City-County Council.
Over the past few years the Marion County Election Board has been paralyzed by partisan disputes over issues like satellite voting, but the board's only Republican member, Vincent Perez, is on board with getting new machines.
He said the current machinery is beyond its usable life, and he said the only question, given the county's fiscal problems, is whether to buy or lease new equipment.
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