Lancaster County officials are taking a “cautious” approach to what they believe could be a costly, and perhaps misplaced, directive that they replace their 12-year-old voting system by the end of 2019. Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties must implement a new voting system that meets two qualifications, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. The system must leave a “voter-verifiable paper record,” and it must be among the systems approved by the department in 2018 or later. Though Lancaster County is among the minority of counties that still have voting machines with paper trails, its system is from 2006. “We felt like our paper ballot system would qualify but as of right now it does not,” said Commissioner Dennis Stuckey. “What we’ll have to do is press the case and see if we can convince them that we will qualify. So far they’ve told us (our system) will not be certified.”
That could mean a $1.5 million to $2.5 million overhaul, Stuckey said, emphasizing “really uncertain” estimate because they don’t know if some of their current system will be certified or if they will have to replace it entirely, and through a new manufacturer.
Statewide, costs could be anywhere from $75 million to $125 million — far below the $13.5 million in recently approved federal funds for the project.
“There’s a big shortfall in terms of the counties’ expenditures for new voting equipment,” said Stuckey, who serves as president of the County Commissioners Association. “Whether there will be help from the state government to flip this bill, or perhaps more money from the federal government, we’re unsure right now.”