INDIANAPOLIS – As part of his newly unveiled budget proposal, Gov. Eric Holcomb is requesting $10 million for election security.
A majority of that money would be used to upgrade electronic touch screens with a voter verifiable ballot, simply a piece of paper that voters can visually see, much like a traditional paper ballot.
“This is the new part of the machine,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson showed us Monday. “So I can verify the vote and you see this paper trail come up.”
Lawson said 60 of Indiana’s 92 counties use electronic voting. The remaining counties, including Marion, use paper ballots. Indiana is one of about a dozen states without a paper ballot backup for every machine statewide.
“We would love to have every voting machine have a voter verifiable paper trail of some kind,” Lawson said. “And this puts us well on our way.”
The $10 million (an estimated $6 million of which would go directly toward the upgrades) would upgrade about 825 machines, just about 10 percent of the total electronic voting machines in the state.
“It’s the right start as I’m informed,” Holcomb said Monday. “To make sure Hoosiers can feel confident that our elections will continue to be safe and secure.”
Lawson said the goal is to have every touch screen upgraded by 2024. She is currently meeting with Republican leaders in the General Assembly to ensure the $10 million budget request remains.
County election officials can upgrade themselves with an individual vendor, but the cost oftentimes makes the addition nearly impossible without assistance. Lawson said the addition is meant to improve confidence within the overall system.
“People started taking a look at the types of machines that were being used and were saying if there was tampering, we needed to be able to construct the election,” she said. “We need to prove to the voter their vote counts.”