Almost all U.S. states are using technologically outdated touchscreen and optical-scan voting systems that are at least 10 years old, according to a report by the New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. "[T]he majority of systems in use today are either perilously close to or past their expected lifespans," warn report authors Larry Norden and Christopher Famighetti.
Also alarming is most of the machines run the Windows XP operating system, which is no longer supported by Microsoft--so there will be no new patches for any new security flaws found in the software.
The business failure of several voting machine vendors compounds the problem of servicing the units, with 43 states using discontinued systems.
A major complication with superannuated voting systems is their vulnerability to crashes and screen freezes, which can lead to voter disenfranchisement.
The report authors say the 2002 allocation of about $4 billion to help states update voting equipment via passage of the Help America Vote Act "fundamentally changed the voting machine market, and it did so before new voting system standards or testing programs were in place." However, now money for replacing the antiquated machines is tight, with nearly 36 states complaining they lack needed funds.
The Brennan Center estimates the cost of replacing systems could be as high as $1 billion.
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