Legislation introduced by Statehouse Democrats setting a requirement for how much in federal election security funds must be used for new voting machines would put the minimum at nearly twice as much as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is planning. Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, said she has heard from constituents who want to ensure elections are protected from errors or manipulation. She is among the sponsors of a bill requiring New Jersey to use at least half of any federal election funds it gets for safer voting systems. Turner was surprised that the state plans to spend $2.5 million of the nearly $9.8 million in Help America Vote Act funds it will soon receive on voting machines, with nearly three-quarters of the funds directed to other priorities.
“Well, I think it’s more important for us to ensure the public, the voters, that there will be a paper trail to show how their vote was cast,” Turner said. “I don’t know if that (26 percent) would be enough money to provide for that assurance.”
The bill’s language says it would take effect immediately, though it hasn’t yet gotten a hearing and might never make it into law. Even if it does, it might not take effect until after the next round of funding is received. If enacted in its current form, it would be in effect for 15 years.
Among the 13 states with at least some paperless voting machines, only two are committing a smaller portion of their new HAVA funds toward new equipment than New Jersey.