On Saturday, voters casting ballots in the South Carolina Democratic primary are set to make history and it doesn’t have to do with whichever candidate winds up victorious.
The primary marks the debut of South Carolina’s new voting machines that were purchased due to security concerns following Russian interference in 2016, reported NPR.
South Carolina is one of 14 states that has replaced their previous paperless voting machines with ones that are called ballot-marking devices. These new machines feature a touch-screen and produce a paper ballot for every vote.
The paper ballot embeds a barcode with the names of the selected candidates, which is then inserted into a scanner to be tabulated.
According to Politico, the ballot-marking devices are more secure than completely paperless machines, but are still not as safe as old school paper ballots which voters mark by hand.
Security experts are concerned that the barcode that is generated could potentially be hacked to incorrectly indicate a candidate other than the one the voter selected. Since most people can’t decipher what the barcode actually says, they wouldn’t necessarily be aware that an irregularity had occurred.
The state’s election commission spokesperson, Chris Whitmire, pushed back against the criticism of the new voting machines and said, “South Carolina’s voting system is tested, certified and proven.”
South Carolina, which paid $51 million for the 13, 500 voting machines, will be the first state to test them in a presidential primary.
Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Delaware and Georgina are just some of the other states that will be using the new technology later this year.
The candidates appearing on the South Carolina primary ballot are Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.
In addition, write-in candidates are not permitted in South Carolina party primaries.