MACo: Fund New Voting Equipment 50/50 State/County

MACo sent a letter to Governor Hogan today, urging that a pending funding request for additional voting equipment follow the same 50/50 state/county funding split as other comparable equipment since 2001. A recent MACo briefing by the State Elections Administrator had suggested that the pending equipment needs would be 100% county funded.

From the MACo letter:

During a briefing before a Senate Committee in June, and more recently before the MACo Legislative Committee in July, the State Board of Elections staff laid out the needs for additional scanners and related equipment across each jurisdiction. These needs have been identified in the last few weeks through an assessment with each county’s election board, and even while using cost-effective short-term leases, apparently total several hundred thousand dollars.

At the MACo presentation, staff from the State Board indicated that since there was no funding in the current state budget for additional equipment, the request for further equipment would be borne fully by county governments.

We hope that you and your budget staff can intervene in this pending decision, and submit this item to the Board of Public Works with a combination of state and local funds, consistent with the split in place since 2001.

In making this argument, MACo cites the 2001 legislation that shifted the selection of voting machines from a county to a state decision, which spoke directly to the costs of such equipment:

[E]ach county shall pay its share of one-half of the State’s cost of acquiring and operating the uniform statewide voting systems for voting in polling places and for absentee voting provided for under this Act, including the cost of maintenance, storage, printing of ballots, technical support and programming, related supplies and materials, and software licensing fees.

At the MACo briefing, State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone suggested that the funding request — largely for short-term rentals of scanning equipment, but including a variety of other equipment needs — could be placed before the Board of Public Works in August.

Read the full MACo letter online.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties