The town of Milford wants the state’s permission to use a different brand of ballot-counting machine in town elections next spring. Not out of any made-up fears about accuracy (optical ballot counters are really accurate) or any of that hoo-hah – they’re worried about maintaining machines that run on Windows XP and haven’t been built for years.
In other words, it’s your classic IT-can’t-keep-legacy-sytems-running problem. There’s a story in the Union-Leader about it (here).
This isn’t new. I wrote about the issue 2 1/2 years ago, when I noted: “LHS Associates, the New Hampshire firm that services them throughout New England, is reduced to cannibalizing old machines for parts such as its dot matrix printer or that joke-worthy memory card, which requires a working battery or else it will lose all the information about the ballots it has just counted.”
Yup, dot-matrix printer! That old story is here.
At that time the state was checking on various alternatives but for some reason nothing has happened since then.
Mr. Brooks- IMHO as a computer person working with both software and hardware for over 65 years – what is wrong here with Windows XP and dot matrix printers? If it is not connected to the internet or has adequate antivirus installed, there is really no greater security problem with XP. Most any PC-clone machine made today will run it (may need a USB CD reader to load it – some “modern” machines are omitting optical drives). And what could possibly be wrong with dot matrix printers? They are still widely used, especially where multiple copies must be printed at once. Try that on an inkjet or laser printer! Again, if a new machine lacks a printer port (many do now), it can be added for chump change. Of course, the “joke-worthy” memory card you mention could be easily replaced with an inexpensive USB thumb drive, which XP can certainly deal with. There may be other things wrong here, but not these of and by themselves.
Use of these old systems reflects the age of the product and the difficult of getting support and parts – that’s the real problem. Most NH towns have little or no in-house IT expertise, so winging it with legacy stuff is asking for trouble.
By the way, that “joke-worthy” line is reference to a joke that was told in my 2019 story.
That sounds about right for the State.