Buying Paper Trail Voting Machines Before 2020 Tippecanoe Co. Election Improbable

Jul 25, 2019

The current model of voting machine, which turned some Democratic votes into tallies for Republicans in 2018 races.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

It’s unlikely Tippecanoe County will have new election machines to use in the 2020 election.

Election Board Chairman Randy Vonderheide calls it “very unlikely” machines can be purchased, certified and made compatible with existing e-pollbook software before the end of the year.

County Clerk Julie Roush says Indiana law mandates each county to take those steps by the end of the year preceding an election. So the deadline for the 2020 presidential cycle would be December 31, 2019.

Vonderheide says he’s hopeful public demonstrations of possible successors to the county’s existing machinery – which is more than a decade old – can be conducted in September.

“We’ve been working on trying to get some dates to have two or three vendors come down so people can see what’s out there,” Vonderheide says.

Vonderheide says the county will likely rent more of the same type of machine it already owns to handle an influx of voters for next year’s presidential race.

But he says he’s also hesitant to do that, because the money used to rent the machines and ship them from a Chicago warehouse to Greater Lafayette could otherwise be spent purchasing state-of-the-art hardware.

The timeline means Tippecanoe County, like many in the state, will continue not having a paper backup to its systems, which have malfunctioned several times in recent elections.

Election security advocates have been pushing harder since Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle to have a better paper trail so voters can be assured their tallies are correctly tabulated.