Forty-three states will be using outdated voting machines for the 2016 presidential election, according to a recent study.
At least seven states—Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia, and Washington— are using machines that are 15 years old, according to the Brennan Center for Justiceat New York University School of Law.
“No one expects a laptop to last for 10 years. How can we expect these machines, many of which were designed and engineered in the 1990s, to keep running?,” Larry Norden and Christopher Famighetti, authors of the Brennan Center report, wrote. “[T]he majority of systems in use today are either perilously close to or past their expected lifespans.”
In some instances, producers of these machines have gone out of business, making it difficult for elections officials to find spare parts. This predicament has forced officials to shop on eBay for decommissioned equipment from which to get parts, according to Wired.
“Georgia was in such dire straits over the lack of parts for its voting machines that it hired a consultant to build customized hardware that could run its Windows 2000-based election system software,” Kim Zetter reported.
The reliance on outdated machines has resulted in unresponsive touchscreens, worn-out modems for transmitting election results, and failing motherboards and memory cards. The machines are prone to crashes and screen freezes, which can cause long lines at the polls and some voters to give up.
Security is another problem with the older machines. Some are easily hacked, enabling an outsider to change votes without a trace. “Today there are tougher security standards than there were years ago when all of these machines were bought,” Famighetti told Wired. “The systems we’re using were not tested to the security standard that we consider necessary today.”
The Brennan Center estimates that it would cost about $1 billion to replace all the outdated voting machines now in use. Of course, some wealthier areas have been able to buy new machines, leaving the decrepit ones in areas with poorer voters.