Ohio lawmakers are debating how much money to give counties to replace aging voting machines, but those funds aren’t expected to be part of the state capital budget. County officials initially had hoped to see money for voting machines included in the two-year capital budget that provides funding for more than $2 billion for infrastructure projects across the state, including university facilities, schools, roads and bridges, and smaller, community projects. The capital budget is expected to pass by April 1, and the goal for GOP leaders in the House and Senate is to introduce a bill within the next two weeks that already has the agreement of both chambers, allowing for a quick, smooth process.
But there is little quick or smooth about the funding of new voting machines, and Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, said this week he expects that will be part of a separate bill. “There is some negotiating still that we’re going to have to go through,” he said.
In December, Secretary of State Jon Husted asked lawmakers to approve $118 million in the capital budget to replace aging voting equipment in time for the 2020 election.
County commissioners and the Ohio Association of Elections Officials have recommended $175 million in the capital budget to cover 85 percent of the cost of purchasing the equipment. The counties would cover ongoing maintenance costs. Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich’s budget office is reportedly looking at a number closer to $100 million.