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News / Nation & World

Pennsylvania governor vetoes bill for voting machines

By Associated Press
Published: July 7, 2019, 9:47pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s governor vetoed legislation Friday that carried $90 million to help counties in the state buy new voting machines before the 2020 presidential election, but the bill also ordered changes to election laws that the Democrat said wouldn’t help improve voting security or access.

In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf said he remained committed to helping counties pay for voting machines, but he did not say how he might come up with the money without approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Wolf began pressing counties in 2018 to replace their voting machines after federal authorities warned Pennsylvania and at least 20 other states that Russian hackers targeted them during 2016’s presidential election.

More than half of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have moved to replace their voting systems to the kind that Wolf wanted: systems that include voter-verifiable paper backups that are widely embraced by election integrity advocates and computer scientists.

Wolf’s administration has warned lawmakers that failing to replace its roughly 25,000 voting machines by next year’s election could leave Pennsylvania as the only state without voter-verifiable paper systems, and certainly the only presidential swing state in that position.

“National security and cybersecurity experts, including the Trump administration, are urging Pennsylvania and other states to have new voting systems with advanced security and a paper trail,” Wolf said in the statement.

The bill authorized Wolf’s administration to borrow up to $90 million to help counties underwrite a tab expected to exceed $100 million. It passed the Legislature last week, hours after Republicans unveiled the borrowing provision and combined it into one bill carrying several changes to election laws.

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