South Carolina elections officials plan to upgrade the state’s voting system technology. Now, they are working to secure funding for it.
The state Election Commission has been using the same voting system technology for more than 14 years. The agency plans to replace the current system by 2020.
“We’ve been working for about the past seven years to secure funding for our statewide voting system,” Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. “We have some funding. We don’t have enough. We’re working with the General Assembly to secure the additional funding that we need to purchase a new system.”
Whitmire said the Election Commission will not know how much money it needs to replace the system until it starts receiving bids from interested vendors.
“Right now we’re doing everything we can to prepare to release an RFP (request for proposals). . . in the near future,” he said.
The agency has saved about $15 million so far, but Whitmire said estimates range above $50 million. He said the agency will need legislative funding to make up the difference.
Whitmire said the commission will request the funding in its proposed annual budget submitted to the governor later this year. He said the amount of that request has not yet been determined.
There was some talk earlier in the summer in using revenue from a state budget surplus to pay for the system upgrades. But Whitmire said the agency itself does not have a position on the source so long as the legislature provides it.
Although the commission says the current system is constantly being tested for security, an important requirement of the new system is to include a printout of a voter’s ballot.
“Currently our voting system does not have a paper record of each voter’s voted ballot,” he said. “Any new system we got would have to have that because that’s the standard of today. That’s not something that was a feature on voting systems back in 2004. It’s also an extra layer of security. . . The bottom line on all if it is that at the end of the day there is a piece of paper with the voter’s votes on it that voter saw and verified that is saved as a record of the election.”