County pushes for funding new voting machines

LOCK HAVEN — Clinton County commissioners are rallying financial support for new voting machines to improve election quality.

Commissioners Pete Smeltz and Paul Conklin, who were present at Thursday’s voting meeting, said they submitted a letter to state Sens. Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) and Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Howard) and State Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) asking them to put pressure on Congress to authorize the remaining $396 million in Help America Vote Act funds so Pennsylvania counties can replace aging election equipment.

This cause has the backing of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), and commissioners agree that most Pennsylvania counties need to replace their voting machines.

In Clinton County’s case, voting machines are around 10 years old. According to Chief Clerk Jann Meyers, and a report released by CCAP, new voting machines range from $2,500 to $3,000. The cost does not include central counting systems, supplies, programming and maintenance agreements.

The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 allocated funds to states to update their voting technology. Most counties replaced their equipment in 2006, but 12 years later, the once-new equipment is reaching the end of its useful life.

Smeltz said new voting machines will give each voter a receipt for their vote. The commissioners did not address what type of voting machines the county would purchase with HAVA funds if they were released.

Commissioners have also finalized their refinancing of a 2010 bond; they signed the document this week. Refinancing the bond represents a savings to the county of slightly under $25,000 a year and does not extend the maturity date of the bond.

Sheriff Kerry Stover attended Thursday’s meeting to speak about two software licensing and maintenance agreements with Teleosoft, Inc. for County Sheriff Suite software. Because commissioners felt the numbers were rather high, including a one-time fee of $24,720 and an adjustable yearly fee of $6,345, they wanted to table the resolution for next week. Stover said the sheriff’s office would negotiate with Teleosoft, Inc. to try to get a better price, which caused commissioners to underline the importance of negotiating high-cost software agreements.

They also approved a five-year lease/purchase agreement with Pitney Bowes for Send-Pro P1500 digital mailing equipment, otherwise known as a postage machine, for the Clinton County Piper Building, costing $298.46 per month.

Meyers noted that the cost encompasses “all the bells and whistles” including maintenance on the software and is less than the $323 per month the county pays for its other postage machine.

Also Thursday, commissioners approved a liquid fuels request from the City of Lock Haven for $4,000, a yearly expense for highway lighting on the Paul Mack Boulevard corridor and the US-220 interchange in Lock Haven.

Commissioners also confirmed the resignations of Matthew Marshall, a full-time correctional officer at the county prison, and Colleen Mackey, a full-time food service worker at the county prison.