Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced he was directing a state authority to borrow $90 million to help cover a portion of the cost of new voting machines for Pennsylvania.
This directive came days after he vetoed a bill that called for Pennsylvania to borrow $90 million.
The state has roughly 25,000 voting machines to replace before the 2020 election.
Should the state pay for new voting machines for all Pennsylvania counties?
Crawford County is ahead of the game. In February, both the county's Board of Commissioners and the Board of Elections approved an eight-year lease with Dominion Voting Systems of Denver with a cost of about $200,000 the first year. The lease includes a managed services agreement allowing the county to receive any software or hardware upgrades during the life of the lease.
The lease was to get Crawford County in compliance with Pennsylvania mandates that all counties have voting machines with a paper trail.
The county has 204 tablets and 204 printers plus 75 ballot boxes and 75 scanners for use at the 68 voting precincts around the county.
The flap over the veto stems from the Democrats objecting to a proposal in Senate Bill 48 that would have eliminated straight party voting as a single-button voting option.
“Pennsylvania counties are well on their way to replacing their voting systems and I applaud their tremendous commitment to protecting our elections,” Wolf said. “I remain committed to supporting their efforts and this funding will help the counties to complete that process.”
Wolf said recently that he’s open to “cooperation” with Republicans if there is an alternative plan to come up with money.
“This can’t be an unfunded mandate” on the counties, he said.
Under the arrangement directed by Wolf, the commonwealth would fund up to $90 million to reimburse counties for 60 percent of their actual costs to replace voting systems. The Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority may issue bonds, and the Department of State would make grants available to counties.
Is that enough for the counties? Should the state pay for everything to ensure a secure election, should it only contribute a portion for the machines or should the state not pay for anything?
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