(TNS) — BUTLER COUNTY, OHIO — A bill that would provide nearly $115 million to counties to help upgrade aging voting equipment, reimburse election boards for more recent machine purchases and set up a unified purchasing and leasing program through the Ohio Secretary of State passed a statehouse panel Wednesday.
The measure approved by the House Finance Committee already passed the Ohio Senate. It is in limbo for when the full House will take up the issue. House members must first elect a new speaker for legislation to move forward.
The Butler County Board of Elections has about 1,600 voting machines, but there are about 150 that are unusable, according to the elections office, and on average 50 voting machines need repairs after each election.
The amount each county would receive will be allocated based on the number of registered voters, according to the bill introduced by state Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson.
Elections officials in Butler County say it could cost roughly $3 million to $6 million to replace current equipment.
State law currently requires one voting machine per 175 registered voters. There are just over 251,000 voters registered in Butler County.
Ohio purchased most of the current voting machines in 2005 and 2006 with nearly $115 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money. HAVA passed after the 2000 presidential election exposed a critical need for upgrades.
This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Michael D. Pitman.
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