County officials worry about funding after governor vetoes voting machines bill

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday vetoed a bill that would have helped counties to pay for new voting machines. Counties are now wondering where they’ll find the millions needed to buy the machines the governor mandated ahead of the 2020 election.

Wolf said Senate Bill 48 would have made changes to elections, but not the right ones to increase voting numbers or security. Multiple county election officials disagree.

“Extremely disappointed,” said Jerry Feaser, director of Dauphin County’s Bureau of Voter Registration and Elections. “This would have provided all 67 counties with much-needed funding for this state mandate that came out of the Wolf administration.”

The bill would have put $90 million toward paying for new voting machines, but it also would have done away with straight party voting.

“I’m concerned the isolated removal of a convenient voting option would increase waiting times and could discourage participation,” Wolf said in a statement. “I repeatedly sought improvements to this bill that would ease access to voting and decrease waiting times, but those changes were not accepted.”

“By next year, we will be one of seven rather than only one of eight states that still cling to straight party voting,” Feaser said.

Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) was one of multiple Democrats who voiced concerns about the bill.

“The current system is fine, allows people to vote efficiently, and again, this change is unnecessary,” Kim said.

Senate and House Republicans released statements saying the decision made no sense.

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons took his outrage to Twitter, calling the situation “government dysfunction.”

Cumberland County’s elections director says she’s upset, too, because she did not want the cost of machines to fall on taxpayers.

“I’m hoping that the General Assembly is able to respond with a possible override of this veto,” Feaser said.

Wolf’s office said no one could comment Friday, but there would be an availability next week.

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