$114.5 million package for new voting machines considered

COLUMBUS(AP) — Ohio lawmakers are considering a $115 million plan that would help counties buy new voting machines.

Republican state Sen. Frank LaRose presented the proposal Thursday, The Plain Dealer reported . Lawmakers agree new machines are needed before the 2020 election but funding for the overhaul remains an issue. Secretary of State John Husted, who is a candidate for lieutenant governor, estimates new voting equipment will cost at least $118 million.

Under LaRose’s plan, money would be divided based on the number of registered voters in each county. Counties would be able to choose between electronic machines and lower-cost scanning equipment.

“Each county should make the decision based on what they think is best for their county,” LaRose said.

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Ohio Association of Election Officials support LaRose’s plan.

LaRose, of Hudson, is seeking to become secretary of state in November. His opponent, Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde, of Kent, believes the state should tap its capital budget bill for funding. Clyde encourages the use of paper ballots, which are secure from cyber attacks.

“Using a different unknown process for voting machine funding adds uncertainty and could result in further controversial changes to our election laws,” Clyde said in a statement.

Husted said the state needs to act now to ensure that testing of machines is completed in 2019, well in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com