Whether the state pays for them or not, Lebanon County voters will be casting their ballots on new and improved voting machines this fall.
LebTown reported earlier this year that Lebanon County would be replacing its first generation electronic voting machines after the May primary election with new electronic machines that would create backup paper records of all ballots cast, a requirement set by the state.
The total cost for the new machines is $704,932.
But while forcing counties to upgrade their machines, the state didn’t give them the money to pay for them – a classic “unfunded mandate.”
Lebanon County’s unfunded portion of the total cost is about $564,000.
The new machines are here and ready to go in November, and Governor Wolf’s recent veto of a bill that would have paid counties for the unfunded part of the cost won’t change that.
“Lebanon County has a plan to pay for the new voting system up front,” said Michael Anderson, Director of the Lebanon County Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration in an email to LebTown, “with the hope that the state and federal government would reimburse the county later with additional funding.”
“We are receiving roughly 20% of the purchase price, about $141,000, from a Help America Vote Act grant from the federal government. Hopefully the state does eventually come up with some funding,” Anderson said.
County Administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said that the County Commissioners planned ahead for the unfunded mandate, and budgeted the cost of new machines from the county’s capital fund.
“[W]e budgeted funding in the 2019 County budget from our Capital Fund,” said Wolgemuth, “which is maintained for tangible projects that occur infrequently, such as property acquisitions, building projects, or in this case, voting machines.”
The vendor, Election Systems & Software, was selected in February by the Lebanon County Commissioners voting as the Election Board.
The Lebanon County Voter Registration office is located in Room 209 of the Lebanon Municipal Building, and can be reached at 717-228-4428.
The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Some important deadlines:
- Register to vote: Monday, October 7, 2019
- Apply for a civilian absentee ballot: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
- File a completed absentee ballot: Friday, November 1, 2019