The race to the 2016 presidential primary is heating up, but on a state level, Colorado voters have a pressing political deadline. On Tuesday, an estimated 40 percent of Colorado’s registered voters will head to the polls, according to Jerome Lovato, voting systems specialist for the state of Colorado. But this year, voters will also have a hand in deciding the future of Colorado’s elections by helping test new voting machines. The upcoming elections are a trial period for four different vote-counting machines, each of which will be tested in both a large Front Range county, as well as a smaller rural county. The test counties include Adams, Denver, Douglas, Garfield, Gilpin, Jefferson, Mesa, and Teller. Secretary of State Wayne Williams plans to authorize one of these machines for use in future elections statewide, starting in 2016. The winning machine will be chosen for its security, usability, accuracy, and user feedback, among other criteria, according to Lovato. By streamlining Colorado votes on one system, the department hopes to start moving away from the current, outdated mix of direct-record electronic voting machines—a process that’s long overdue. So what do you need to know about our current (and upcoming) voting systems before heading to the polls? Read on to find out why Colorado’s antiquated voting system is in desperate need of an upgrade.
Most of the voting equipment used in Colorado—and across the country—is outdated. According to Lovato, five counties in Colorado utilize voting equipment that was purchased after 2000 and before 2006, and 59 counties use voting equipment that was purchased in 2006 or later.
The current equipment—which also varies across the state, adding to the issue’s complexity—uses software that runs on nearly out-of-date commercial hardware. Previously, Colorado used hardware specifically created for voting. We moved to commercial hardware because it’s familiar and user-friendly, but there are still downsides. These electronic-based machines have a difficult time recognizing and interpreting ballots that may be damaged or have other issues. It’s also difficult to keep the equipment updated. For example, many operating systems vendors no longer support some of the older machines our counties currently use. And finding replacement parts? Forget about it.
“A lot of our systems are so old that they’re based on Microsoft systems that Microsoft no longer supports,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams recently told the Associated Press.
Full Article: Colorado Tests New Voting Machines in 2015 Elections.