Concerns that aging American voting machines would fail during the election appear to have been largely unfounded, according to a new analysis published Thursday.
Researchers found that roughly 42 states were using voting machines that are at least a decade old, but far fewer problems developed with older machines than expected.
“Fortunately, on Election Day, most Americans were able to vote on machines that functioned properly,” states a summary of the research. “Election officials were well-prepared. Keenly aware of the potential problems associated with using antiquated equipment during a high-turnout election, they were generally able to keep voting going smoothly when problems did arise.”
Some voting machines did display problems on Election Day, but none of the observed issues were sufficient to alter the outcome of the election from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.
Relatively minor calibration errors were reported in the key swing state of Pennsylvania. In one Utah county, 75 percent of the county’s nearly 400 voting machines failed, due to widespread memory card failure. Another malfunction occurred near the Detroit area, where an optical scan machine would not accept ballots. The biggest problem was solved by election officials in North Carolina by simply extending poll hours by a few hours in a single county.
Despite the relative success of voting machines this election, experts are exceedingly concerned about the long-term integrity of the machines.
“Confidence in election outcomes and the integrity of our electoral system is the currency of our democracy,” the research summary noted. “It is no exaggeration to say that without that confidence, our democracy will cease to function. Anyone who cares about the legitimacy of our elections in future years will work to ensure our oldest, least reliable and verifiable equipment is replaced.”
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