During its decision meeting this week, the Senate Budget and Taxation Subcommittee on Health and Human Services adopted language to mandate that at least $2 million from the Fair Campaign Financing Fund be used in FY 2014 to begin implementation of a new Optical Scan Voting System. While not a new issue, it is one that has been delayed for several years due to funding constraints and administrative implementation.
Although county governments do not have a primary role in administering elections, those functions are handled through independent Boards of Elections, counties are responsible for paying half the costs. It is the Subcommittee’s intent that beginning in FY 2015 the cost of the system would be shared equally between the State and the counties.
Based on a study of Maryland’s voting system, a new optical scan system is estimated to cost $35 million:
- $14.4 million – Optical Scan Devices
- $11 million – Ballot Marking Devices
- $2.8 million – Ballot on Demand Printers
- $7.8 million – Booths and Carts
It is believed that the Treasurer’s Office would only provide for 3-year financing of this project. Should this be the case, counties can expect their share for the new optical scan voting system to be $3.5 million in FY 15, $7.5 million in FY 16, and $7.5 million in FY 17.
The Subcommittee would like to see the new system in place for the 2016 Presidential election.