Lancaster County is requesting its second annual round of state funding to cover the cost of election administration.
The county commissioners on Tuesday voted to authorize an Act 88 “Election Integrity” grant application to the state Department of Community & Economic Development. The county is eligible to receive $1.82 million, out of a statewide allocation of $45.7 million, according to DCED.
Counties have been struggling with significantly increased election administration costs under Act 77, the law that allows all voters to cast ballots by mail if they choose. In response, lawmakers passed Act 88. It bans counties from accepting third-party election funding but provides enough state funding to cover most election expenses. Counties must follow certain procedures, such as continuously counting ballots 24/7 until they are finished.
Last year, Lancaster County’s Act 88 funding was $1.78 million. Among other things, it covered the purchase of new high-speed ballot scanners and the electronic poll books that were field-tested in a pilot in the May primary.
Statewide, data on Act 88 spending for the November 2022 midterm election shows that the majority went toward polling place staffing, transportation and storage of voting equipment and materials and ballot printing, according to Votebeat PA. In general, election officials are happy with the program and plan to continue using it, Votebeat reported.
Four counties did not seek Act 88 funding last year: Bradford, Crawford, Montour and Susquehanna. Montour and Crawford counties won’t apply this year either, due to the 24/7 ballot-counting requirement, Votebeat reported.
The Lancaster County commissioners normally vote on Wednesdays, but in this instance, they had to act on Tuesday, because it was the application deadline. The circumstances were unusual: The money did not become available until Gov. Josh Shapiro signed the budget on Aug. 3, and the county commissioners did not meet the week of Aug. 6-10.