Councilman Gene Thompson wants the county to use money left from a federal grant to pay for next year’s municipal election.
County Clerk Penny Bogan, however, said there’s plenty of money left from this year’s election expenses to pay for next year’s voting without dipping into the grant.
Bogan used part of a $398,000 check received through the 2002 Help American Vote Act in October to pay off a loan the county used for a new voting machine system.
At the county council’s November meeting, Thompson said, “The balance of $199,297 may be used for an election expense in federal elections.”
He asked, “Is there some funding we can use in 2011 ... rather than waiting until 2012?”
The council “budgeted a certain amount” to pay off the voting machine lease, Thompson said.
But the HAVA funds can only be used for an election ending in an even-number year, Bogan said, which eliminates next year’s municipal contests.
The 2010 elections cost $52,759, Bogan said in a letter to County Council President Steve Jacob; she provided The Lebanon Reporter with a copy of the letter.
Paying poll workers was the largest expense; that cost $26,900, Bogan said. The second-largest amount was for voting machine “mechanics” — persons who travel to precincts to deal with machine problems.
Bogan returned $62,527.31 in budgeted election funding, giving the county a cushion for 2011 voting.
With the county’s population increasing, Bogan anticipates needing to buy more voting terminals, which cost $5,000 each. She also wants to retain money for repairs.
The $199,297 is also a cushion against a repeat of “unforeseen issues,” such as the loss of voting machine supplier Voting Technologies International.
Boone, Cass, Parke and Randolph counties all had to pay out of their pockets to replace voting systems made by VTI after the company went bankrupt in 2007. Boone used $111,000 from its general fund, and borrowed the rest, to buy a $420,000 Microvote General Corp. voting system in 2008.
“I fought for the reimbursement of the loss of the VTI voting machines and their services for three years,” Bogan wrote Jacob.
After intense lobbying, the four counties convinced the Indiana General Assembly to pass a law requiring the Indiana Secretary of State, which oversees state-wide elections, to give them first shot at any new HAVA funding made available by the federal government.