Aging voting machines could pose a challenge for counties

Jan 2, 2018

In 2017, the North Dakota Legislature was asked to fund new voting machines.

The Legislature declined. And that means North Dakota is using the same voting system it purchased back in 2004.

"That's a long life span for technology," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum.

Silrum said the current machines use the Windows 7 operating system. Windows no longer supports that system, and Silrum said the counties have had to cannibalize their existing machines to have some that still work.

"You can't any longer find chips or motherboards that run slow enough, because modern technology has advanced," Silrum said. "They just say, 'Why would we want to build something so slow?'"

Silrum said if counting votes becomes an issue, there is a fall-back, old-school system for counting the vote, because the current devices use paper ballots.

"We can always hand-count the ballots," Silrum said. "But hand-counting is laborious, and it's never quite as accurate as a machine is."

Silrum said the 2019 Legislature will be asked again to upgrade the machines.