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      Review: SC voting machines not certified by federal Election Assistance Commission

      A review released by the South Carolina General Assembly Legislative Audit Council says voting machines used in South Carolina are not certified by a federal Election Assistance Commission.

      COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) ?? A review released by the South Carolina General Assembly Legislative Audit Council says voting machines used in South Carolina are not certified by a federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

      The 62-page report breaks down where the state stands with current voting machines, evaluates training requirements and looks at alternatives to the current voting machines.

      The review, which was requested by the former President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate, Glenn McConnell, goes on to say the machines South Carolina uses are not certified by the EAC and do not produce paper audit trails. However, South Carolina's requirements meet the minimum requirements in the Help America Vote Act.

      The EAC was established in 2002 after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. According to the review, the EAC is without its four commissioners and has not revised the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The report also says an EAC official claims the lack of commissioners does not affect the testing and certification of voting systems except in accrediting new test laboratories or if a voting system manufactureer wants to appeal a decertification deicision.

      An email attached to the review from SC Elections Commission executive director Marci Andino to the Legislative Audit Council director Perry Simpson says, "South Carolina purchased the most advanced voting system on the market [in 2004]."

      The Legislative Audit Council estimates it would cost $17 million to have a voter-verified paper audit trail.

      A bullet point on the first page of the review reads, "We found no evidence that county election commissioners and voter registration board members have been removed or replaced when they fail to comply with certification and training requirements."

      A note from the Governor's office to Simpson says, "In May of 2011, our office received notification from the SEC listing many individuals that appeared to be out of compliance with the training and certifications statutes."

      The letter explains the statute described in the bullet point is "less than clear" and that the governor's office did take action to resolve the issue.

      The report further states that non-compliant members should be removed by the governor and replaced. It is recommended that the State Election Commission offer more training at various times and locations around the state.

      Another portion of Andino's email reads, "Looking forward, the agency is planning for the eventual replacement of the current system by tracking advances in voting technologies and seeking funding."

      The legislative review says the state can either keep the current machines as is or add a voter-verified paper audit trail, have a statewide procurement for new voting machines, or approve different types of voting machines and have counties purchase their own machines.

      According to the report, agency officials don't believe it's cost effective to retrofit machines that should be replaced within a few years.

      The House budget proposal for 2012-13 includes Andino's request for $5 million to begin saving for a new system after 2016.

      The report says the last purchase of 11,400 machines cost $35 million.

      (Brian McConchie and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)