When Lawrence County purchased electronic voting machines more than five years ago, the batteries were included. But after several years of recharging and reusing those batteries, they are near the end of their useful life, which stands to take a bite out of the county Department of Voter Registration and Elections’ budget. In response to a request by Ed Allison, director of Voter Registration and elections, the commissioners designated approximately $26,000 from the county contingency fund to replace the batteries in more than 250 machines at a rate of nearly $100 apiece. The voting machine battery funding was the largest of Lawrence County’s first 2013 budget transfers.
County departments are permitted to transfer funds among line items within their own departments, with approval by the commissioners. Department directors also can request larger transfers from a contingency account overseen by the commissioners, as Allison did this week.
However, state law prohibits any transfers during the first quarter of each year, which made this week’s commissioners’ meeting the first opportunity for the county to approve budget transfers.
County Commissioner Dan Vogler said federal grant funding through the Help America Vote Act could help defray more than half of the battery replacement costs. The federal law was passed during George W. Bush’s presidency to update voting processes in the wake of snafus during the 2000 presidential election in Florida. Lawrence County could receive a maximum of $14,000 to cover the replacement costs.