Jaeger asking for new voting machines, electronic poll books

Dec 30, 2016

Secretary of State Al Jaeger.
Credit Courtesy ND Secretary of State

North Dakota’s Secretary of State says it’s time to replace the state’s voting machines.

Al Jaeger has asked the 2017 Legislature Jaeger has asked for a $9 million appropriation for that. He says the current machines were first used in 2004.

"Even at that time, though the equipment came in fancy new boxes, the technology was already aged," Jaeger said. "We're now at a point where the voting system is not being supported any more."

Jaeger said counties have had to cannibalize some of their devices for parts, to keep some machines running.

"We haven't had any malfunctions," Jaeger said. "But we know in another election, it would be very difficult to be able to run it."

Jaeger said the $9 million figure came from a “request for proposals” process, and represents a bid from a reliable vendor.

Jaeger has also asked for money to have every voting precinct have electronic poll books.

"That will provide the security that, when people come to the polls, it will be able to make sure no one has double voted," Jaeger said.

Jaeger said some precincts already use electronic poll books, but others still use pen and paper.

"The ability to connect to a central source, where we can double-check and make sure somebody hasn't voted in another area, will remove any doubt," Jaeger said.

The price tag for the electronic poll books is $3 million. Jaeger said combined with the $9 million he’s requested for voting machines, the total cost to upgrade election equipment will be $12 million.

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