New Voting Machines Coming Soon

Election Commission looks for funding

South Carolina Radio Network
October 04, 2018 - 11:06 am

Lee Rogers

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OCTOBER 4, 2018 BY RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network)

South Carolina elections officials plan to upgrade the state’s voting system technology and they’re working on securing ways to pay for it.

The South Carolina Election Commission has been using the same voting system technology for more than 14 years. They plan to replace the current system by 2020.

“We’ve been working for about the past seven years to secure funding for our statewide voting system. We have some funding. We don’t have enough,” said Election Commission spokesperson Chris Whitmire. “We’re working with the General Assembly to secure the additional funding that we need to purchase a new system.”

The Election Commission won’t know how much money it needs to replace the system until it starts receiving bids from interested vendors.

“Right now we’re doing everything we can to prepare to release an RFP (request for proposals). . . in the near future,” he said.

“We have approximately $15 million,” Whitmire said. “It could cost in excess of $50 million. We’re working with the General Assembly to secure funding for replacement in 2019.”

Whitmire said the commission will request the funding for the system replacement in the budget it submits to legislators later this year. The amount of that request has not yet been determined.

There was some talk earlier in the summer in using revenue from a state budget surplus to pay for the system upgrades. But Whitmire said, “The SEC does not have a position on the appropriate source of the funding, whether from surplus state revenues or the general fund. We defer to the General Assembly to make that determination.”

Although the commission says the current system is constantly being tested for security, an important requirement of the new system is to include a printout of a voter’s ballot.

“Currently our voting system does not have a paper record of each voter’s voted ballot,” he said. “Any new system we got would have to have that because that’s the standard of today. That’s not something that was a feature on voting systems back in 2004. It’s also an extra layer of security. . . The bottom line on all if it is that at the end of the day there is a piece of paper with the voter’s votes on it that voter saw and verified that is saved as a record of the election.”

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