By Erica Irish
INDIANAPOLIS—County election boards that beef up security around voting equipment and elections will be able to seek reimbursement for their expenses under a bill approved by a state Senate committee Monday.
Senate Bill 327 requires counties to make sure their voting systems follow new security procedures and allows county election boards to apply to the Indiana Secretary of State for full or partial compensation of any resources or staff implemented to meet the new standards. However, it does not say where the money is coming from.
The bill passed with a unanimous 8-0 vote and was referred to the Appropriations Committee for review of possible funding sources as the result of an approved amendment.
Angela Nussmeyer, Democratic co-chair of the Indiana Election Division, said she wants to understand how counties will be reimbursed.
“I think it’s important that we establish a fund to either appropriate money this year or in future years so that we can actually move forward with reimbursing counties for security,” she said.
Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, reminded committee members that they have little time to move this bill forward, urging them to consider the consequences of sending it to a separate committee.
“My concern is that I really think we have a substantially strong product that I would like to continue to fine tune. I’m concerned about that step at this point,” Walker said.
Angie Nussmeyer, Director of Elections at Marion County Election Board, testifies on behalf of election security.
Photo by Tanner Nicholson
Walker said he prefers leaving the bill as is and making changes as problems occur.
“I would like to keep this bill clean for now in terms of the financial impact as we have these conversations so, going forward, we might determine either we need to adjust our expectations or provide some funding from the state level,” he said.
SB 327 was also amended to acknowledge concerns raised in its first hearing earlier in the month. One amendment defines the United States Postal Service’s role in managing intelligent mail barcodes (IMBs) to track absentee ballots.
Nussmeyer, who previously worked for the Marion County election board, said there is still not enough clarification on who would best oversee IMB technology. She believes clerks’ offices are able to serve voters best with the help of third-party vendors.
Walker, however, said working with existing technology provided by the USPS is enough to secure absentee ballots.
Erica Irish is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.