Counties Cannot Completely Shoulder New Election Audits

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick testified in opposition to House Bill 767, “Election Law – Securing Elections From Foreign Interference”, before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 27, 2018.

This bill would require local Boards of Election to absorb a significant tactical and fiscal burden by requiring additional auditing of random samples of ballots and mandating that election infrastructure and equipment be updated at least once every ten years. These changes would require a significant addition in the amount of staff to conduct a manual audit of a certain number of ballots within 10 days of an election. This is in addition to election audits already in place. In this legislation, counties would be forced to shoulder a large majority of the cumbersome and costly changes.

From MACo Testimony:

As a rule, MACo resists state policies that result in costly or burdensome local implementation. This bill would result in substantial costs to local Boards of Election. Incorporating a new manual count process of this magnitude would require significant staff overtime or additional staff to perform the audit within the 10-day timeframe to certify an election. Furthermore, local Boards of Election indicate that upgrading or replacing the State’s election infrastructure would cost taxpayers millions of dollars, even without any documented concerns about system vulnerability.

Under state law, counties have no choice but to fund these costs – competing for limited local funds against education, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services.

This bill would place a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy.”

For more updates, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.