LIMA — Allen County could soon see its share of $114.5 million to replace aging voting machines, a candidate for Ohio’s secretary of state said Thursday.
State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, toured the Allen County board of elections in downtown Lima on Thursday. He spoke about legislation that he expected to pass the state senate next week and should go through the House of Representatives soon to modernize equipment.
“In most cases, these machines have outlived their useful lives. They’re getting hard to repair. The parts are becoming difficult to find. They’re becoming inefficient,” LaRose said. “It’s time for the 2019 election cycle that we bring in new voting machines, and I’ve got the bill that does that.”
LaRose is uncontested in the Republican primary. He faces Kathleen Clyde in the November general election.
LaRose said the total state funding was enough to replace all machines in the state with lower-end models, with counties choosing higher-end models having to find the remainder of the money elsewhere. Local boards of elections will decide if they’ll purchase optical scan paper, touch-screen or hybrid models. LaRose sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Kathy Meyer, director of the Allen County Board of Elections, said she didn’t know how much Allen County would receive at this point, but she knows it won’t be 100 percent paid by the state.
Meyer, a Democrat leading the board of elections, said she supported LaRose’s ideas to change the number of pollworkers needed in some circumstances.
“We have a polling location with five precincts,” she said. “That means 20 pollworkers. It’s not always necessary to have that many pollworkers.”
Until legislation changes the requirements, the board of elections is still looking for pollworkers, including high school students. LaRose also praised companies that let workers off on election days.
The key is maintaining the integrity of the process, which LaRose called “the envy of the world.”
“We run pretty good elections,” LaRose said. “Anyone who says there’s widespread fraud or widespread suppression or whatever else is simply not paying attention to the facts on the ground.”