Secretary of State Chet Culver is urging Iowa lawmakers not to let federal election money be gobbled up by other states. Under the Help America Vote Act, Iowa is eligible for up to 15 million dollars in federal funds to help replace outdated voting machines and make polling sites handicapped accessible. But Secretary Culver says that money could be lost because the legislature’s budget doesn’t include 764-thousand dollars in matching funds. He says he wants to remind legislators that the clock is ticking, and if they don’t act, they will shift the responsibility to counties and Iowa taxpayers. Iowa faced the same threat last year when the legislature tied the state matching funds to election reforms the governor vetoed. Governor Vilsack then shifted money from other areas of state government to come up with the money. Culver says he’s disappointed to see lawmakers are now tying this year’s matching funds to the same election reforms the governor vetoed last year. He says we’re not asked to debate poll hours, photo identification, absentee balloting or same day registration. He says those issues have nothing to do with the federal act.Culver says he has a petition signed by all 99 county auditors asking legislators to approve the five-percent state match separate from other election reforms. He says both counties and the state are waiting on the federal funds to purchase new voting equipment. Culver says Iowa is required by federal law to update voting equipment and make all polling precincts handicapped accessible. He says without federal funds the counties will have to pick up the tab.
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