Nice, Minnesota: New $7M Fund to Assist Localities with Voting Equipment

[Image via mnhs]

Minnesota’s new state government finance bill has a nice provision for the state’s localities: a $7 million fund to assist with acquisition of new voting equipment. The Faribault Daily News has more:

Secretary of State Steve Simon is praising a new law that will help replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment, calling it a “critical and necessary investment” to ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state. Replacing aging equipment has been a major priority of Secretary Simon’s since taking office and was signed into law May 30.

The bill creates a $7 million grant fund to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment by 2018. It provides up to a 50 percent match between the state and counties for mandatory equipment and up to a 75 percent match for electronic poll books. The bill was authored by Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) and Sen. Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and included in the State Government Finance Bill.

Secretary Simon hailed the bill, noting that funding for elections equipment has been a top priority in his discussions with local officials throughout the state – especially outside the Twin Cities:

“I have traveled throughout Minnesota and met with local elections officials and the number one issue that always comes up is replacing aging election equipment before it is too late,” said Secretary of State Steve Simon. “This is a critical and necessary investment in Minnesota’s election system, and I applaud the Governor and the legislature for recognizing the importance of this issue. Unlike some responsibilities undertaken by counties and municipalities, administering a statewide election in over 4,000 precincts is not optional. It is required by law and an important part of our democracy, and that is why it has been one of my top priorities. I look forward to working with the legislature in the future as we continue to address this pressing need and ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state, and is up to the standards Minnesotans expect.”

It is expected to cost counties and municipalities $28 million to replace all aging equipment and is largely a problem faced by counties in Greater Minnesota. Secretary Simon’s push to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment has been endorsed by newspapers throughout the state.

What isn’t clear is whether this $7 million investment, like HAVA, is a one-time boost to localities or if there will be a longer-term effort to set up a revolving fund to stay on top of the issue. Either way, it’s a tremendous boost for localities in Minnesota and a welcome development as states continue to focus on what the Presidential Commission on Election Administration called an “impending crisis” in voting technology.

Stay tuned …

2 Comments on "Nice, Minnesota: New $7M Fund to Assist Localities with Voting Equipment"

  1. Max Hailperin | June 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    Perhaps worth noting that a county can receive up to 75% of the cost of electronic roster equipment vs. 50% for other equipment.

    • Max Hailperin | June 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Reply

      Oops, sorry, I just saw that you had included that fact. Somehow I didn’t see it on first reading. I apologize for not reading your blog as carefully as it deserves.

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