The 2000 presidential election recount resulted in an outpouring of $3 billion in federal funds for states, counties and municipalities to buy new voting equipment, through the Help America Vote Act of 2002. A decade later, “machines that were purchased in 2003 are now starting to break down, and (election) jurisdictions are concerned that this will become more frequent,” says Nate Persily, research director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, created by President Obama after 10 million voters waited more than half an hour to vote in 2012.
The commission sounded the alarm partly because election officials may be reluctant to, Persily says. “People don’t want to broadcast there’s potentially an election debacle on the horizon, for the same reason that nobody who could potentially could get sued in an election wants to explain the danger coming. So they do what they can with what they have.”