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Commissioners: Mandated State Voting Machines – Show Us the Money

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Commissioners 6/11/2019CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan branded the state’s effort to require new voting machines in time for the 2020 elections as an unfunded mandate in response to a question at Tuesday’s morning work session.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has five certified voting machines from different companies that it considers as “safe” from possible hacking in future elections.  The new machines were required after fears of hacking following the 2016 elections.

“There’s no way we could have been hacked because at no time are the voting machines plugged into the internet,” explained Tharan.

When the decision to require new voting machines, Governor Tom Wolf indicated that the state would provide some funding for the purchase of the machines. Lately, the legislature is questioning if the state would provide any money to counties for the voting machines.

“We’re not in a hurry to purchase any new machines because the state could still change its mind on what is best to purchase,” said Tharan. “It’s just my opinion, but I think we’re going to end up with paper ballots in which you fill in an oval with your choice.  It would provide us with a paper trail and isn’t as expensive as the new machines.”

Tharan estimated the cost for Clarion County could range between $700,000.00 to $800,000.00.  Tharan said reserves could handle the costs if needed, but it is not the type of expenditure that they would like to see.  Clarion County’s fund balance is approximately $4.5 million.

Commissioners do not take official action at work sessions, but review items that are likely to require action at their next regular meeting.

Other items included the following:

  • A contract with United Mine Workers of America for the corrections unit was ratified by the union and awaits commissioner approval. Term of the contract is from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2021. Two bargaining unit contracts are still being negotiated, including Sheriff Deputies represented by Butler Community College and Court-Related employees represented by the Teamsters.
  • A request from the Sligo Borough Veterans Park committee for a $5,000.00 donation was received and will be reviewed at the next meeting.
  • An application from the hotel tax committee with a request from the knocks once upon a Christmas event for $1,500.00 for marketing. $750.00 would be paid at the time of approval, and $750.00 after project completion.
  • The Clarion Hospital Authority requested James Kriebel be appointed to the board. Bylaws state that members may serve five years but are eligible for reelection is by the authority.
  • Multiple contracts on behalf of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities with terms from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, were reviewed and will likely be approved at the next meeting.
  • PHARE Grant Certification of Compliance for housing at a cost of $25,000.00 as an annual required service was reviewed.

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