Voting Machines in Some States Will Be Nearly Old Enough to Cast a Ballot Next Year

09 Oct 1928 --- Original caption: 10/9/1928- New York, NY- Women Candidate for Congress Shows How to Use the Voting Machine. An added attraction of the campaign waged by the Republicans in the present election is the school in New York City, where voters are instructed in the art of using the voting machine. Photo shows Mrs. Ruth Pratt, Republican Candidate for Congress from New York, showing how the machine works. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Photo illustration of what voting machines might look like in 2016. Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice shows that 14 states will be using at least a few voting machines that are more than 15 years old in 2016 — so old that they remember a world without smartphones and are nearly at an age where they could cast a ballot themselves. Forty-three states are using voting machines that will be at least ten years old, likely purchased the last time America freaked out about old voting machines when the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002. Many contain parts that are no longer manufactured or systems that haven’t been updated since the last millennium.

Which means that election officials — many of whom lack the funds to buy a new fleet of expensive vote counters, especially in poorer regions — are worried about what would happen in 2016 if the old machines crash, accidentally register a bunch of wrong votes, get hacked, or just stop working, potentially leading to an outbreak of 2000-era Floridas across the nation, or at least superlong lines that depress turnout. The report stresses that it is unlikely that the machines will all fail on Election Day, but it does contain the words crisisscarydisaster planning, and dangerous.

Voting Machines Are Getting Ancient