While the result of the 2020 vote for president in Louisiana was not in question, it was another huge turnout election.
We’re lucky that our state did not have problems, though. The reason for concern is not the fantasies of hacking by foreign powers, or other conspiracy theories on the internet.
What is a concern is our long-outdated equipment for voting.
Some of Louisiana’s voting machines are 30 years old, with some of the newer equipment going back to 2005.
Quite often, repairing today’s voting machines requires cannibalizing parts from the broken ones.
Twice now, amid controversies real and bogus, the long and complicated bidding process for new equipment and services has bogged down.
We do not want to go into the convoluted politics of this breakdown. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is at odds with some powerful figures in his own Republican Party over replacements of the machines.
He was outright heckled at a GOP luncheon because avid supporters of former President Donald Trump believe discredited notions that one or more of the national companies supplying voting machines are somehow linked to Trump losing key states last year.
Nobody likes to lose. But voting machines aren’t the cause, the politicians in question are.
Inevitably, there is a hot competition, and multiple bidding protests, from the several national businesses seeking the contract. The first effort for a contract fell by the wayside because of a competitor’s challenge to the process.
State government — like any large business — is going to have disputes among bidders. Is there any legitimate reason that the process for dealing with those concerns cannot be carried to a successful conclusion with some vendor?
Not really. We hope that the politicians squabbling among themselves will keep in mind that the public interest is best served by getting new machines.
Ardoin is a statewide elected official and controversy goes with the job. But Louisiana’s elections are well-run, even as the equipment involved teeters on the edge of failure. Does he deserve flak because of election results in Arizona, Pennsylvania or Georgia?
And Ardoin is right, citing multiple national studies and nonpartisan assessments, that Louisiana’s existing system needs to be updated to deal with the occasional close election. A system that will provide paper printouts that can be hand-counted — as they were many times in Georgia, for example — is probably a good upgrade for Louisiana’s machines.
Getting there is not helped by legislative leaders who call unconvincingly for greater “transparency” in the bid process. All this verbiage is a way to pander to extreme Trump voters who believe that the election was “stolen.”
It wasn’t. But inventing process arguments to send a signal to disgruntled voters stands in the way of getting something worthwhile, which is new voting machines.