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Senator Frank LaRose (R – Hudson) has scheduled a press conference for Thursday at which time he will be unveiling his proposal to provide funding for election equipment replacement which will be amended into his S.B. 135.

The proposal will provide capital funding for new purchases and general revenue funding to reimburse counties that have already acquired new elections equipment.

Key elements of the bill include:

  • An appropriation of $114.5 million – $104.5 million in capital dollars and $10 million in other funding to reimburse the 14 counties who have previously purchased or leased equipment.
  • The funding formula to counties would consist of two parts. There would be a base amount of funding to each county that would help them purchase the key elements of a new voting system.  County population would determine the base amount. There would be three tiers for counties based upon populations of 0 to 19,999; 20,000 to 100,000; and 100,001 and above. The remainder of the money would be distributed based upon registered voters per county.
  • Local choice would be preserved with the funding not being directed towards the purchase of a specific type of equipment.

We are waiting to receive a spread sheet from Senator LaRose that will provide the county by county distribution of funding under his proposal.

We are also aware that the administration believes only $91 million in funding is needed.

It is extremely important that you talk to you legislators immediately and explain to them the significance of the total cost of ownership as it relates to what constitutes an effective state/local partnership for voting machine replacement.

  • This total cost of ownership includes the purchase, bringing into service, maintenance, operation, security, storage, upgrades and ancillary support to ensure the proper functioning of the vote tabulation system.
  • A one-time investment by the state to assist with the purchase of voting equipment will represent only a fraction of this total cost
  • The county will bear all of the remaining total cost.
  • Components of this total cost which will be incurred entirely at the county level will include, but not necessarily be limited to:
    • Back up/emergency and training voting machines
    • Privacy voting booths
    • Carrying cases/bags
    • Cords/extra batteries/chargers
    • Ballot printing
    • Storage needs for equipment and ballots
    • Poll worker training and revising/updating training manuals
    • Staff time associated with revised policies and procedures

Public education and outreach on new voting equipment
Also let your legislators know that counties have already undertaken due diligence to determine what voting system replacement will cost our counties. Under the auspices of the Secretary of State’s Directive 2017-04, county Boards of Elections and Commissioners met and reported back to the Secretary of State on a county-by-county basis. The reports indicated that the total cost to replace voting machines statewide would be approximately $210 million.

Based upon the counties’ responses to the Directive, CCAO and the Ohio Association of Elections Officials are asking for a total appropriation of $175 million which equates to an 85% state/15% county cost sharing partnership and follows the electronic pool book partnership model.

For more information on elections and voting equipment issues contact either Cheryl Subler csubler@ccao.org or John Leutz jleutz@ccao.org.