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Minimal Burden On Tax Payers For Pennsylvania’s Voter Education Effort

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Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – TV and radio ads; robocalls and mass mailings; Sounds like all of this effort would mean a big burden on Pennsylvania tax payers, but spokesman Ron Ruman says the cost to the Commonwealth is a minimum.

“We have $5 million dollars that is allocated for this education effort,” he says. “That’s federal money from the Help America Vote Act given to states in big election years for voter education that cannot be used for any other purpose,” Ruman says.

Of that money, about $1.3 million is going to TV ads – the biggest expenditure – $200,000 for print ads, $80,00 for robo-calls, $112,000 for transit ads, $500,000 for online advertising and then there are other expenses as well. In addition, Ruman says Department of State representatives have attended dozens and dozens of community meetings across the state handing out literature and answering questions from neighborhood leaders.

“We have allocated about $160,000 for our community outreach program, which helps to cover the costs of attending these meetings,” says Ruman. “We also have about $1.5 million being spent on mailing post cards to every home in Pennsylvania that has at least one voter.”

Ruman says the only state borne cost is making the IDs, which are given free to registered voters who request them for voting purposes. He says lawmakers budgeted about a million bucks for the free IDs when they passed the law.

“They typically cost about $13.50,” says Ruman. “So at this point, since we issued just under 10,000, [which is] about $130,000 of that million dollar budget so far, so we still have a pretty big chunk of money of what was allocated to PennDOT for these free IDs.”

Ruman says the Department of State absorbed the administrative cost of voter ID fliers and handouts. He says PennDOT used in-house staff to create the DOS ID, so no additional cost was required for that endeavor.

As for how much the Commonwealth has spent of the total $6 million for the roll-out this far, Ruman says it’s hard to say because the efforts are ongoing right up to the election.

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