State Sen. Eric Stewart wants to know what has happened to $25 million in federal funds earmarked to provide paper ballots for elections after a movement to repeal the law which would have provided a paper trail for all elections.
“I would like to know where the $25 million is,” Stewart said this week, noting the money could be used to help individual counties offset the cost of changing over to the machines needed to read the paper ballots required under the Voter Confidence Act passed a few years ago.
Stewart said he is opposing a move to repeal the act which was supposed to have gone into effect in 2010. It has since been delayed until 2012 and there is now a movement to repeal the act given an outcry from numerous election officials who say it would make millions of dollars of investments in voting machines. The act would basically make Warren County’s fairly new MicroVote machines useless.
However, Stewart said he likes the idea of having a paper trail in order to track elections.
“Paper ballots provide us with a paper trail,” Stewart said, noting the state Senate just heard a contested election, which it upheld, but that the case would have not likely even gotten that far had there been paper ballots as means of accounting for the outcome.
Stewart believes the $25 million in federal funds through the Help America Vote Act could be used by counties such as Warren County to purchase the equipment it would need to abide by the Voter Confidence Act.
The fate of the Voter Confidence Act remains under debate by the state legislature.