MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Board of Elections Director Kim Horn asked the county commissioners Thursday for a $66,611 increase in the board’s 2012 budget, and the commissioners aren’t happy about it.
With the request, Horn and Board of Elections Chairman Bill Moody presented a detailed explanation of the increased expenses the board faces.
Some of he major items involved in the increase include:
•$13,000 to replace the mother board batteries on all 202 voting machines. Horn said she had hoped to replace only half this year, but due to it being a presidential election year she decided all should be replaced.
•An additional $20,000 in salary costs, much of which is due to the Ohio Secretary of State’s director for uniform voting hours, which results in additional hours for Knox County. During the first three weeks of October, the office must be open until 5 p.m. and the last two weeks, until 7 p.m. Temporary workers are hired to run the absentee voting site (there must be a Republican and a Democrat present at all times). The board also normally adds more temporary workers in presidential election years.
•The printing of absentee, back-up and provisional ballots. The Secretary of State has told local boards they should plan on having enough absentee ballots to equal half of the total number of ballots cast in 2008. That will total 14,000 ballots. Also, each precinct should have on hand “back-up” paper ballots equal to 20 percent of the number of votes cast in 2008, which will be 5,714 ballots. Provisional ballots available should equal 5 percent of the 2008 vote total, of 797 ballots.
Total increase needed for supplies: $22,000.
•Equipment needs include bar code guns and battery backup, a workstation rental during the absentee period, and the big item, $13,101 for a voter record software upgrade. That upgrade, Horn said, would also allow them to quickly place all campaign finance reports on-line.
Although the requests would increase the board’s total budget to $478,986, that would still be less than the $486,654 the board spent in 2008.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger immediately jumped on the $13,000 software upgrade, saying, “This is real frustrating. The county budget is tight and it looks like the board wants every bell and whistle that comes along. If someone wants to look at campaign finance reports, they can come in and look them up.
“The voters are tired of more taxes, but we’ve been elected to make decisions. I’m not in favor of $13,000 to allow on-line access. Where so we draw the line on these ‘what if scenarios.’”
On the battery purchase, he commented, “of course the vendor wants to sell batteries, but what’s the worst that could happen, a battery dies and we have to send someone out to fix it?”
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