Proposal to fund voting machines criticized

Gov. Tom Wolf’s announced proposal Tuesday to borrow funds from the Pennsylvania Economic Financing Authority to pay for voting machines has drawn fire from local lawmakers.

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said, “The governor does not have the authority to unilaterally decertify and require replacement of all voting machines, much less the authority to simply use his pen to borrow $90 million to pay for the machines without an appropriation or legislation from the General Assembly.”

Last week, the governor vetoed a different proposal for funding the machines that included a provision for abolishing straight-party ticket voting.

State Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, also spoke out against the governor’s plan.

Borrowing from the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority, he said, will hurt development across the state.

“That is like borrowing money for what is set aside to buy a car,” he said. “It’s not to be used for plugging an expense you vetoed.”

Wheeland said the veto was the governor’s response to abolishing straight party voting.

“Now, he’s out trying to find pots of money. I totally disagree with the governor’s move on that,” he said. “I see it going to court.”

Everett said that the governor has put politics above the rights of state’s citizens

“The first offense to our Commonwealth’s citizens was his executive decision that voting machines must be replaced before a presidential election in which a candidate highly disfavored by the governor’s party is up for re-election,” he said. “Now we know for certain that it is not enough for voting machine specifications to be dictated by his party, but that he believes voters are not smart enough to educate themselves on a candidate’s background and positions before they enter the most sacred place of participation in our political process for citizens — the voting booth.”

The Republican bill vetoed last week by Wolf would have authorized his administration to borrow up to $90 million to help counties underwrite a tab expected to exceed $100 million. It had passed with just seven Democrats voting for it.