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Rep. Kent Smith: Bill to modernize Ohio voting equipment passes House

Democratic efforts to address cybersecurity threats rejected along party lines
June 7, 2018
Kent Smith News

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today applauded the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 135, which would invest more than $100 million in state funds for Ohio counties to purchase new, modern voting equipment. SB 135 also appropriates $10 million to reimburse counties who purchased new voting systems on or after January 1, 2014. Voting systems, including voting machines, marking devices, automatic tabulating equipment, direct recording electronic voting machines and associated allowable expenditures, would be covered under the bill.

“After years of cutting funds to local communities, it’s about time state government will invest in new election equipment,” said Smith. “While my Republican colleagues ignored ways to safeguard Ohio against Russian cyber-attacks, I am glad we can bring better technology to Ohio elections.”

In the wake of reports that Ohio was among 21 states whose election infrastructure was targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election, Democrats moved to proactively bolster the state’s voting infrastructure cybersecurity. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) offered an amendment on the floor that would require funds for new voting systems to be used on paper ballot systems and would require risk-limiting audits of election results to be performed each year. The amendment was tabled on a largely party line vote.

SB 135 comes after House Democrats pushed for new voting equipment during the state’s Capital Budget process earlier this year, but Republican lawmakers rebuffed their attempts.

After passing the House, SB 135 moves to the Senate for concurrence. If changes are accepted, the bill will go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.