Secretary of State Jon Husted has asked Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders to provide $118 million in the upcoming capital budget to replace aging voting equipment in time for the 2020 election. “Given the state law requirements for voting systems in Ohio, I believe that the state should pay 100 percent of the capital acquisition and setup costs of the lowest cost, safe and accurate system from the least expensive vendor,” Husted wrote to the leaders Thursday. Most voting equipment in Ohio was purchased in 2005 and 2006, largely with $115 million in one-time federal money through the Help America Vote Act. Husted and county elections officials have argued those systems are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, as parts become more scarce and breakdowns more frequent.
“Any plan must ensure that updated voting systems are implemented in time for the 2019 general election so that elections officials and voters alike are not using new voting equipment for the first time in the 2020 presidential election cycle,” Husted said.
The $118 million figure is an estimate based on all counties choosing paper-based precinct count optical-scan machines. If counties choose to go with direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, or a hybrid system, the cost may be higher, Husted said, and the counties should cover that additional cost.
The proposal is earning kudos from county elections officials who want to ensure that they have flexibility to decide the type of voting machine that will work best for them, said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials.