Voters in several states are facing longer wait times due to their polling places' voting machines malfunctioning. Many machines across the U.S. are outdated, meaning that some voters will have to go back to basics with a paper ballot.
On Nov. 8, the nonprofit Electionland found instances of machines malfunctioning and inconveniencing voters in Illinois, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. There have also been incidents of malfunctions in Connecticut, The Hill reports.
A broken machine will not result in anyone losing their ability to vote. Polling places experiencing malfunctioning machines will resort to manually counting paper ballots. Electionland found that every polling place with an uncooperative machine will still be able to accurately count voters’ ballots.
Polling experts note that many voting machines across the U.S. are due for an upgrade. The lifespan of an average voting machine is only 10 years and many polling places are operating with outdated equipment.
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Several frustrated voters have taken to social media to express concern that the malfunctioning machines are an indication that their ballots will not be accurately counted.
Kay Stimson of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) has stressed that anyone who is concerned about the integrity of their polling place should alert an election official instead of stirring up panic on Twitter.
“Social media is not necessarily going to be the most effective means for reporting legitimate voting equipment issues,” Stimson told Forbes. “Any credible claims need to be documented on-site by election officials and — if necessary — reported to investigating authorities.”
One concern about outdated voting machines is the possibility of a foreign entity such as Russia being able to hack them and tamper with the voting results. Observing this vulnerability, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has offered to collaborate with election machine vendors to strengthen the cybersecurity of future equipment, Politico reports.
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“We understand a lot of states will be modernizing their voting machines over the next several years, and we want to make sure that as they modernize their machines, they do it in a way that is secure,” a DHS official said.
In September, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson downplayed the potential of a foreign entity hacking the election results.
“It would be … very difficult through any sort of cyber intrusion to alter the ballot count, simply because it is so decentralized and so vast — you’ve got state governments, local governments, county governments involved in the election process,” Johnson said. “So it would be very difficult to alter the count.”