Jon Husted: Replacing Ohio’s voting machines will be costly

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he’s hoping the federal government comes forward with money to update Ohio’s voting machines but admits, “I don’t hold my breath in thinking that they are going to.”

Husted said the Ohio legislature is looking at ways to share costs to update voting machines that date to the mid-2000s. A split of 80 percent cost for the state and 20 percent for the local governments is being considered for replacement of machines that the Ohio Association of Elections Officials has said could cost an estimated $200 million.

RELATED: Hacking the ballot: How safe is your vote this November?Ohio and other states replaced their old punch card voting systems with electronic touch screen and optical scan machines in the wake of the "hanging chad" debacle in Florida during the deadlocked 2000 presidential election and additional problems in 2004, including long lines in Ohio. The federal Help America Vote Act in 2002 for the first time provided funding to help states buy voting equipment.

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Husted said cybersecurity is critical for the state’s voting and election systems and that he meets regularly with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the issue.

RELATED: Did Russians target Ohio voting machines?Last year, Russian hackers attempted t0 access to the election systems — including online voter registration data — in about 39 states, but Husted has said there is no sign that Ohio was one of them. Voting equipment used to cast ballots and tally the results are believed to have remain untouched by hackers as U.S. law forbids them from being connected to the internet.

Husted, who is running for governor, spoke Tuesday during a visit to the Dayton Daily News.

Husted said the two biggest issues facing Ohio are how to make the state economically competitive and ensuring that none of the state’s residents are “left behind” even as others do well.

RELATED: Ohio's elections chief at odds with Trump over claims of voter fraud"There are pockets of economic stagnation and generational poverty that are persistent and cruel," Husted said.

He said wages haven’t kept up with the cost of college, health care and child care.

“Folks feel like they are working harder and falling behind. That frustration makes them feel like the American dream is slipping away,” Husted said.

RELATED: Kasich vs. lawmakers in Medicaid fight: 'If you break it, you own it'He advocates making sure all high school graduates are ready for a job or college, and would increase the number of students taking vocational education. He said that would not necessarily cost the state more money and called for the private sector to help pay for more vocational programming.

Husted said people who can work need to work and that the federal government should free Ohio from Medicaid rules so the state can have more freedom in deciding how the money is spent.

If people are not working because they can’t pass a drug test, Husted said they need to get help for substance abuse. If they won’t get help and have children, Husted said the state is doing the kids no favors by leaving them in homes with drug users.

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Crowded ballot

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is one of nine candidates for governor. They will each run in next May’s primary election to determine who will appear on the November 2018 ballot.

Here are the candidates:

Republicans: Husted, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

Democrats: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron. Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill this week announced he would run but said he wouldn’t make it official until the February filing deadline so he can remain on the bench. O’Neill is the lone Democrat on the state’s high court and his replacement would be named by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.

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