The Pulaski County Election Board is planning to start budgeting for voting machine upgrades. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require voting machines to have a “voter verifiable paper audit trail” by the end of 2029. Adding the necessary printers to Pulaski County’s machines is estimated to cost $45,000.
During Monday’s election board meeting, Clerk JoLynn Behny said she’s begun discussing options with Auditor Laura Wheeler. “At budget time every year, I’m just going to ask for an additional $5,000, $10,000 because that’s all I’m going to be able to do,” Behny said. “If the state’s forcing us to do it, we have to do it.” Behny added that it would be nice to use the nearly $12,000 the county won’t be spending on a primary this year, but that isn’t allowed.
State lawmakers have apparently been looking at covering 10 percent of the cost, but Election Board Chair Patty Sullivan thought they should chip in more. “They’re the ones that had this crazy idea,” she said. “And it’s not just our state, but I think they should suck up some of that cost because we didn’t make that stupid rule.”
Board members also pointed out that technology could change a lot over the next decade.