National: The state of election technology is… improving | Joe Kiniry & Daniel Zimmerman/TechCrunch

April 29, 2016

With the U.S. knee-deep in what has been an unusual presidential primary season, to say the least, many eligible voters are highly engaged in the process, passionate about their preferred candidates. But when it comes to voting trends, a reality check is in order: Voter turnout in the U.S. during the last midterm election hit the lowest point since the 1940s. In fact, the number of Americans heading to the polls each election has been declining for the last 50 years, which helps explain a concerted push by election officials to deploy technology that simplifies the process of, and increases participation in, elections. Before delving into the current and future state of election technology, let’s summarize how we arrived at this point. Most jurisdictions today are using election technology developed in the 1990s, and the typical voting system is running an operating system that is no longer vendor-supported, no longer has security updates (which couldn’t be applied anyway because of certification requirements) and relies on technology that wasn’t considered “cutting edge” even when it was purchased. All of which begs the question: Why are these outdated systems still in use?
Unsurprisingly, the answer comes down to money and contracts. Jurisdictions entered long-term buy/lease contracts with technology vendors and, due to significant budget constraints that have persisted the past decade or more, have not been in a financial position to write off these investments or engage in protracted, expensive upgrade projects. And on the vendor side, massive consolidation has left just a handful of vendors controlling the entire market.  Read more: