Proposed Senate Bill May Force Replacement of Starke County’s Voting Machines

Plans to upgrade Starke County’s voting machines may be put on hold, pending the outcome of a bill in the Indiana Senate. Senate Bill 570 proposes a number of new requirements related to election cyber security. Notably, any electronic voting systems would have to have a “voter verifiable paper audit trail,”starting in 2022.

For more than a year, equipment vendor MicroVote has been working on plans to rebuild the county’s existing voting machines. But that probably wouldn’t be enough to bring Starke County’s system into compliance with the new standards that are being proposed.

During Friday’s election board meeting, board member Harrison Fields said he didn’t see the point in moving ahead with the planned upgrades now. “To upgrade these machines is about $70,000,” he said. “So why upgrade them for two years or one year? Why spend that money, when we might spend that money towards [the new ones]?

Election Board President Peg Brettin said the cost of replacing all of the county’s voting machines would be about $200,000. Board members were hopeful that the state would provide some funding to help with that.

Members of the election board plan to meet with the county commissioners tonight, to discuss the proposed legislation and the resulting change in plans for the county’s voting equipment.