Voting machines don’t last forever. Some experts say these systems last about 10 years. And replacing them, of course, costs money.
With the 2012 election slowly receding in the rearview mirror, officials in Anoka County, Minnesota are planning to replace their optical-scan voting technology, which was purchased in 2000. While the technology is still accurate, officials note that the manufacturer no longer supports the software and that some replacement parts are no longer available.
Moving ahead with the purchase is a complex process.
Voting systems need to be certified at the federal and state levels – at least two manufacturers are expected to seek state certification in December. Additionally, under a current proposal, the county would own the new technology but the county, cities, and school districts would share the cost. The county would pay for 55 percent of capital and operating costs— including more than $300,000 recently received from the state’s federal Help America Vote Act account — cities would pay 30 percent, and school districts 15 percent. The entire voting system will likely cost $1.3 million.