As Georgia leaders debate how to replace the state’s maligned voting system, local government officials have a simple request: Pick up the tab. In its list of legislative priorities released earlier this month, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said the state government should fully fund any new voting technology. It also said the state should pay to train county employees to use the new system — whatever it turns out to be. State Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, said during a June meeting that a new voting system will cost “realistically” $30-$60 million. Todd Edwards, the association’s deputy legislative director, pointed out Friday that a Georgia law on the books requires the state to pay for voting equipment in all 159 counties. That doesn’t guarantee the law will be the same when the Legislature wraps up at end of March.
“There’s always a concern,” Edwards said. “However, at this point, we feel comfortable that the state is entertaining the notion of picking up that cost.”
Catoosa County Elections & Voter Registration Director Tonya Moore said she has not heard any talk of the state forcing the local governments to pay for any part of the voting technology. A bigger question, she said, was how much the counties would receive from Atlanta to train their employees on how to use a new system.
“We just have to follow suit” with the state’s demands, Moore said. “Whatever the legislature writes is how it works.”
Edwards expects the counties and the state will split the cost on training: “We’ll be doing some funding. We know we will. But whatever they can pick up on the state’s side, we appreciate. There’s no free ride here. We’ll pay.”