- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - In a story Dec. 14 about aging voting machines in Minnesota, The Associated Press misattributed to Secretary of State Steve Simon that the problem could eventually mean lost votes or long lines at polls. Such effects should have been attributed to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, which analyzed the issue nationally. Minnesota is among states that use paper ballots, which would not be lost in a machine failure.

A corrected version of the story is below.

Voting machines at polling places across Minnesota face a growing risk of crashing or failing because of their age, Minnesota’s top election official said.

Secretary of State Steve Simon said he’s heard from local election officials that the machines are wearing out, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1QGAvhS ) reported. Most communities use electronic election equipment that’s at least 10 years old and getting close to the end of its usefulness, Simon said.

“I’m hearing loudly and clearly from election administrators and others concerned about elections that this is an issue we need to address sooner rather than later and not wait until it becomes a crisis - and they need help,” Simon said.

A national analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice said aging machines could lead to lost votes or longer lines at polling places. Votes would not be lost in Minnesota, which uses paper ballots, but breakdowns could lead to delays in tabulation.

Replacement costs statewide are estimated at $28 million for two main pieces of equipment at polling places - the machines that take in the voter’s ballots and assisted-voting equipment for people with disabilities.

While Hennepin and Anoka counties have bought new machines in the past year and Ramsey County is preparing to replace its equipment, Simon said smaller, rural counties in Minnesota don’t have the money to upgrade their equipment.

A former legislator, Simon said he thinks state government should help.

Earlier this year, the first-term Democrat organized a working group made up of city, county and township officials and a bipartisan set of state lawmakers to develop funding ideas to recommend to the 2016 Legislature. While he doesn’t expect the Legislature to act next year, which is not a budget-making year, Simon said he wants to make lawmakers aware of the issue.

“We are not at an absolute crisis point yet, and for 2016 we’re not going to get a ton of new equipment,” Simon said. “But as we get into 2018 and certainly by 2020, it’s going to start to be a problem.”

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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