Washoe County Is Getting New Voting Machines

Mar 1, 2018

A man tests out a new voting tablet on Wednesday, February 28. The new tablets will be rolled out for $4.2 million, $700,000 less than the cost of the old system.
Credit Jacob Solis


For the first time in 14 years, Washoe County is going to have new voting machines.


The new machines are large tablets, about two feet tall and one foot wide. At a price of $4.2 million dollars for the whole system, the tablets will provide a number of new accessibility and usability improvements.

Heather Carmen is the Assistant Registrar of Voters for Washoe County.


"These ones are a lot easier to navigate," Carmen said. "They're similar to your smartphone, so voting on one of these, you know, it's just like that"


A man tests out the new voter roll tablets on Wednesday, February 27. The new tablets will replace the paper voter sign-in rolls used in the past.
Credit Jacob Solis

The machines will also still use what's called a verified paper audit trail or a paper record of whatever electronic vote was cast.


Those paper ballots are then checked against the electronic results once votes are being counted.


All of these redundancies and more come at a time when American voting systems are being put under the microscope. Fears of ongoing Russian interference in the 2018 elections are already mounting, and some states are eyeing paper ballots as a counter to electronic tampering efforts.


But Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula says the new machines, and the servers they connect to, all run independently of one another.


"These are standalone machines," Spikula said. "They are not networked, they are not connected and they have no WiFi capability. Nobody can hack into them; they're not connected."


The tablets should be rolled out by May, just in time for the start of early voting for this year's primary elections.


Jacob Solis is a senior at the Reynolds School of Journalism.