(The Center Square) — Connecticut will spend $25 million to replace its aging voting machines ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Gov. Ned Lamont said the State Bond Commission will vote at its Oct. 6 meeting to approve the borrowing to purchase new ballot-counting tabulators for use in elections and primaries statewide. He said the current voting machines are over 17 years old and approaching the end of their useful life.
“The machines we use to record votes are the backbone of our election system, and it is essential that we provide election officials with the equipment they need to tabulate results with accuracy and timeliness,” the Democrat said in a statement.
Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas had pushed for the $25 million, arguing that the state’s voting machines were antiquated.
At a legislative hearing earlier this year, Thomas said the machines are “unreliable and unserviceable” as the company that produced them is no longer in business.
“From frequent jamming, to weather related issues, caused by the rain and heat, to their antiquated technology, elections officials struggle each election to process ballots efficiently,” she told lawmakers.
Thomas also expressed concern that the machines wouldn’t be in place for next year’s presidential election unless the bonding authorization were approved soon.
In a statement, Thomas said she is “encouraged” by the timing of the bond commission’s vote on the funding request and “looks forward to getting the RFP (request for proposals) process started.”
The machines were purchased in 2006 as part of a nationwide mandate set by Congress in 2002 requiring states to have voting systems that keep a paper record of every vote cast in case an election is audited or recounted. Because lever voting machines cannot produce a paper ballot, the state was forced to retire them.
Connecticut also expects to see an increase in ballots next year after approving legislation authorizing a 14-day early voting period for general elections, a seven-day period for primaries, and a four-day early voting period for special and presidential primaries.
Lamont estimates the $25 million will be enough to purchase several thousand traditional tabulators and dozens of high-speed tabulators to tally absentee ballots.
“Implementing a statewide replacement of all these machines now will ensure that election workers continue to have the tools they need to conduct an Election Day that runs smooth and free of any glitches that could potentially be caused by outdated technology,” he said.