The Pennsylvania budget for 2018-19 includes a little more than $14 million to cover the cost of replacing the state’s voting machines. That’s a fraction of the projected $125 million it will cost to buy the more secure machines that meet the standards proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of State in April. So far, almost all of that funding has come from the federal government. The state has chipped in just 5 percent. Wolf wants the state to have more secure voting machines, all which provide paper ballots, in time for the 2020 presidential election. If the state and federal government don’t pick up more of the cost, the counties will be forced to pay. That possibility has county leaders worried, even as many acknowledge the state needs to replace the equipment, said Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
The county group estimates that there are about 40,000 voting machines in Pennsylvania. Each costs between $2,500 and $3,000.
Most counties last replaced their voting machines in 2006, he said. Philadelphia replaced its voting machines in 2002. More than $100 million in federal funding was made available for counties to upgrade their equipment in 2006.
Republican state Rep. Brad Roae said it’s not clear that new machines are needed. “The voting machines in Crawford County are 12-and-a-half years old and they have only been used 25 days,” Roae said. Like those, all the rest of the state’s voting machines have only been getting used twice a year, he said.