New Pennsylvania law gives counties $90M for election security efforts

New Pennsylvania law gives counties $90M for election security efforts

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Thursday signed into law a proposal that provides $90 million for replacing outdated and nonsecure voting machines, along with making reforms to ways Pennsylvanians can vote.

The new law marks a major change for Pennsylvania’s voting system, allowing mail-in voting and a 50-day period for voters to mail in ballots ahead of the election, as well as moving the deadline to register to vote from 30 days prior to the election to 15 days prior.

The law also provides $90 million to assist counties in purchasing new election machines with paper trails to help increase the security of voting.

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These funds will serve to reimburse counties for 60 percent of what they have spent on replacing older voting equipment with machines that have paper records of votes, something Pennsylvania’s Department of State ordered them to do last year.

Forty-six Pennsylvania counties, or around 68 percent, have the new systems in place as of this month.

Wolf said in a statement that the new law marks “the biggest change to our elections in generations."

“This bill makes voting more convenient and more secure for millions of Pennsylvanians and continues my commitment to modernizing our elections,” Wolf added. 

Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone said in a separate statement that the funding is “crucial for counties who are continuing to work to meet requirements to purchase new, voter-verifiable paper trail elections systems by April 2020."

Cozzone said that the move is a win for "both voters and county property taxpayers.”

The new Pennsylvania law was signed a week after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed into law a measure to boost the cybersecurity of elections in that state.

Congress is considering giving states between $250 and $600 million to assist in election security efforts during the next fiscal year.

Lawmakers previously appropriated $380 million in 2018 to go to states to bolster election security efforts, with Pennsylvania receiving around $13.5 million. These funds also went toward helping counties to replace voting machines.