Pennsylvania counties still unsure how to fund new voting machines, lawmakers look to help offset costs

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Counties are still trying to figure out how to pay for new voting machines for the 2020 election. However, lawmakers in the State House are debating a bill that would help counties offset the costs of updating their voting machines. IN 2018, Governor Tom Wolf issued a statewide mandate for counties to do so.

"We never really got a real reason for why," said Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parson. "Other than a sort of unsafe security threat."

All counties must have their new voting machines up and running for the 2020 primary election. Parsons says, is the state doesn't help, taxpayers would likely be the ones footing the bill. In Lancaster County's case, that's about $3 million.

"To have an unfunded mandate that we haven't budgeted for," said Parsons. "Placed on the county taxpayers, property taxpayers, that is frustrating."

The bill will allow the state to help offset each county's cost for new voting machines by about sixty percent. If the bill passes in its current form, 50 percent of counties would not be allowed to replace their voting systems until the general assembly is notified of the plan for replacing and the estimated cost.

While helping with the cost of voting machines is something both democrats and republicans support, nearly all House democrats do not support this bill because it eliminates the straight party voting button.

"I absolutely believe that funding the new voting machines is a core function of government," said State Rep. Kevin Boyle. "But I don't think we should attach a unhelpful amendment which would prohibit the straight party button from being on voting machines."

The bill did pass out of the House Thursday afternoon. It will now head to the Senate for a vote.

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