CLEARFIELD – Pending state legislation would help Clearfield County afford new voting equipment.
On Tuesday Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said the legislation, if signed off by Gov. Tom Wolf, would provide $90 million to be split among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
He said this funding would be available to counties immediately to cover 60 percent of their costs up-front. He said Clearfield County would pay the rest to the voting machine vendor over a five-year lease.
Currently, McCracken said the county is anticipating its new equipment will cost between $900,000 and $1 million, so the state funding would result in a savings of between $500,000 to $600,000.
Originally, Wolf asked for $15 million annually for five years. “The $90 million pot that the legislature put up is actually a much better deal for the county,” he said.
McCracken said the legislation is “hung up” right now because there was an amendment attached that would eliminate straight-party voting in Pennsylvania.
So far as his knowledge, he said the governor will decide whether to sign off on or to veto the legislation by the end of business on Friday, July 5.
“At this point, the way I see it is it’s either the $90 million or nothing,” McCracken said, “because the $15 million wasn’t included in the budget … if it does get vetoed, we’re back to square one.”
According to a previous GANT News report, nationwide, there is bipartisan agreement that, in the interest of security, Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs), still in use in most Pennsylvania counties, should be replaced.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, along with many experts, are urging states to convert to new systems that produce paper records.
In April of 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of State advised county officials it was mandating them to purchase new voting machines that can provide verifiable paper records and advanced security.
In February the Clearfield County Board of Elections selected a paper ballot system; however, it delayed its selection of a vendor to await more information about state funding.