Officials Look to Replace Aging Voting Machines

Voting technology purchased with federal funding provided by the 2002 Help America Vote Act is nearing the end of its useful life in many states and counties. Early last year, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration sounded the alarm on this issue after a survey of local election officials revealed a looming crisis.

Several states and counties are making significant investments in new technology:

  • Maryland officials approved a $28 million dollar contract to switch the state to optical-scan voting technology, similar to machines used there almost a decade ago. This time, however, the state plans to lease instead of buy the technology to provide more flexibility in the future.
  • Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) recently proposed spending $28 million on new optical-scan systems. If the proposal goes through, a procurement process would select the specific model of machines, which would be uniform statewide.
  • Worcester, Quincy, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, are pooling their resources to purchase new voting technology. The cities hope that by teaming up they will receive more favorable pricing. Worcester, where the technology is nearly 25 years old and has become prone to breakdowns, has $350,000 budgeted for new machines. Other cities in the state are considering joining this effort.
  • Counties in Kansas are concerned as well. Johnson County, for example, has 2,400 voting machines with an average age of 12 years.  They will need to be replaced soon, which is likely to cost millions. Officials have discussed issuing bonds to fund the purchase.

Unlike 10 years ago, these jurisdictions today have no federal funding available to help pay for new technology. More state and local governments will probably face this dilemma before the 2016 presidential election.

Follow us on Twitter using #electiondata and get the latest data dispatches, research, and news by subscribing today.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.