North Dakota Legislators Consider Bills to Update Voting Equipment

A majority of election voting systems deployed in states and local jurisdiction in states and local jurisdictions in the United States are at least 10 years old and coming to an end of their effectiveness, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Many state governments purchased new machines under the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 after “hanging chad” incidents experienced in the 2000 presidential election. However, much of the funds from HAVA appropriated to the states have dried up.

North Dakota Sectary of State Alvin Jaeger hopes to address this issue in his state before the 2018 election. The voting equipment “could experience a dangerously high failure rate in 2018 and be unworkable in 2020,” according to election officials says Donnell Preskey of the North Dakota Association of Counties. Jaeger and county officials have requested $9 million of state funding for new electronic voting system equipment, which was included under House Bill 1123. Another bill under consideration, House Bill 1122, would place an electronic poll book in every polling location in the state and cost an estimated $3 million.

But some North Dakota legislators have concerns about the costs of updating the state’s voting equipment, particularly given forecasts of declining revenues on the horizon. “This is probably necessary at some point; I just don’t see how we can do it,” said North Dakota state Rep. Roscoe Streyle. “We’re going to have to cut back every budget, not matter what the priority is, and this one is going to be no different.”