County Clerk Rich Vargo discussed the future of voting in the county and the nation while requesting an election budget increase during Thursday’s meeting of the Riley County Commission.
Vargo’s total election budget request was $420,096 — an increase of about $56,000 from last year. Most of that would go to added personnel costs, he said.
Vargo explained that it’s difficult to estimate election budget needs because of how unpredictable each election year is.
Currently, he said, most people vote by voting machine, but the machines the county uses aren’t being made anymore.
Also, he said there is a strong movement to go back to paper ballots rather than electronic systems because people have concerns about the electronic voting systems being hacked and votes being changed.
Vargo said that most of his election funds go to personnel. If the government decided to go back to paper ballots, his funding would need to increase because employees would have to spend more time working polling locations and processing ballots.
He also said that if the electronic machines remained the standard, at some point he would need to replace the ones the county owns. But for now, Vargo said he isn’t interested in wasting taxpayer money on machines that could possibly be replaced with the former paper ballot.
More county lots to be protected
The Riley County Commission on Thursday decided to change its parking regulations to add parking lots at the health department and other county properties to its list of protected lots. This will allow those who work at those locations to tow and fine delinquent cars when needed.
Riley County Counselor Clancy Holeman brought the issue to light at Thursday’s meeting, saying several health department employees have seen a particular vehicle parked in an employee-reserved parking stall for weeks at a time. Under the current regulations, the health department isn’t able to have such vehicles towed or fined. The department wasn’t included in the list of protected lots because it only recently became a county department. Commissioners also asked Holeman if entities such as the Riley County Historical Society were included, and Holeman said he doesn’t think so. Commissioners said they would review several sites that may have issues with delinquent vehicles and will change the regulations to include them as well.