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Voting machines across CT could get a $25 million upgrade

Meg Kyle explains to her 11-year-old grandson Nolen how the tabulator machine works at the Edgewood School polling place in New Haven on September 12, 2023
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Meg Kyle explains to her 11-year-old grandson Nolen how the tabulator machine works at the Edgewood School polling place in New Haven on September 12, 2023

It’s been nearly two decades since voting machines in Connecticut have been updated, but tabulators across the state are set to get an upgrade.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday the State Bond Commission will vote in October to approve an allocation of $25 million to purchase new ballot-counting machines to be used in elections statewide. Lamont serves as chair of the commission and sets its agenda.

The statewide replacement of these machines will be the first one since Connecticut eliminated the use of lever voting machines 17 years ago, according to a statement from Lamont’s office.

“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,” Lamont said in a statement.

“Although our existing machines continue to function, they are more than 17 years old and election officials tell us that they are starting to show their age,” Lamont said. “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they need to conduct an Election Day that runs smooth and free of any glitches that could potentially be caused by outdated technology.”

The new machines would be used for both elections and primaries statewide. If the funding is approved, the state would solicit bids, purchase equipment and provide it to every municipality.

The allocation would allow the state to purchase several thousand traditional tabulators and dozens of high-speed tabulators, Lamont’s office says.

Voting machines were in the political spotlight across the U.S. following the 2000 presidential election. Studies of that election found millions of votes were not counted due in part to faulty voting machines.

In 2002, Republican President George W. Bush, who defeated Democratic challenger Al Gore, signed into a law an act passed by Congress that directed states to eliminate antiquated voting machines in favor of machines that read paper ballots, which keep a paper record of votes cast and are easier to audit.

The State Bond Commission is scheduled to meet Oct. 6 at 10:30 a.m.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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