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Indiana party leaders clash over replacing state’s voting machines

John Zody. (WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Democrats want to replace the state’s voting machines, all in the name of election security.

The nonpartisan nonprofit Verified Voting created a map of the myriad of equipment that will be used in Indiana counties on Nov. 6. Marion County and Vigo County will use paper ballots. Others will use use a mix of electronic and paper machines. Most counties, including Allen and Vanderburgh, are all electronic.

Indiana’s Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said he wants all of Indiana’s 92 counties to use voting machines that leave a paper trail.

Zody said from the party’s headquarters, “Today, I’m calling on Secretary of State Connie Lawson to take quick and decisive action to assist counties with replacing machines with an audit-able system, before the Nov. 6, 2018, election. It’s possible because Virginia did it last year.” 

Two weeks ago, Lawson, a Republican, said the state’s voting machines can handle hackers or cyberattacks because the machines are not connected to the internet.

But, Zody said, the security issue comes from how your vote is counted.

“Every voter needs to know the right they have is protected. Both in the process of exercising that right, as well as in the accounting of it. That is currently not the case,” the Democrat chairman said. 

Zody added, “If there’s not an audit-able trail, there’s a potential problem with whether that machine could break down or be compromised. If you don’t have that second step, that paper trail, that’s all done electronically. There’s no way I can say ‘Something didn’t go (right) or let’s check the work on this machine, that’s the issue.” 

On Friday, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupher said, “What we saw today was a blatantly partisan and purely political attempt to undermine the credibility of our elections by the Indiana Democrat Party. Every vote cast in Indiana already has a paper trail, and no voting equipment is connected to the Internet. Hoosiers should feel confident that their elections are safe, free and secure, and that’s all thanks to the leadership of Secretary of State Connie Lawson.” 

Zody said it could cost $25 million to $36 million to replace Indiana’s voting machines.

But where would that money come from? Zody mentioned federal funding.

Zody said, “But, it could also come from the state. There’s no reason why, if we have a surplus, there are ways the state could pay for this. Why they couldn’t step up and do that.”

Lawson’s campaign did not respond to a request for its thoughts on what the Democrats want. 

But the Indiana Republican Party said on Friday Lawson addressed the National Conference of State Legislators Election Security Summit, which was in Indianapolis. Indiana’s GOP said Indianapolis was chosen because Indiana is leading the way in election security upgrades and best practices.