Governor Wolf unveils plan to install new voting machines

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Governor Wolf announces plans to help counties pay for new voting machines. It comes less than a week after the governor vetoed a bill that would have done just that.

After Pennsylvania was the target of Russian hackers in 2016, counties were ordered to get new voting machines. Ones that leave a paper trail. All at a cost of about $150 million.

“I think everybody in the building recognizes that we’ve got to support the counties. This can not be an unfunded mandate,” Governor Wolf said.

The legislature passed a bill to use $90 million to help counties fund that mandate, but with a provision added to eliminate straight-party voting on the ballot. The governor vetoed it.

“I didn’t like the particular way the bill that came to me was written. I’m trying to come up with an alternative,” Wolf said.

The alternative announced Tuesday? A bond issue. The state would borrow up to $90 million without legislative approval to reimburse counties in replacing those machines.

Some Republicans are already criticizing the move. Representative Matthew Dowling in a statement said: “Pennsylvania is a democracy, not a dictatorship” and calling the bond issue “a slap in the face to every taxpayer and to the constitutional separation of powers.”

“If you have a different way you want to do this, I’m willing to cooperate. But, let’s make it about getting the money to the counties,” Wolf said.

While those new machines are supposed to be in place ahead of next year’s primary elections, counties using older, paper ballot voting systems will be allowed to request an extension until June 2021.

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