'Drastic change' coming as Louisiana shifting to iPad voting, and it won't be cheap _lowres

Early voting in November 2015 at the State Archives Building in Baton Rouge.

Replacing the states's 10,000 election day and early voting machines will cost up to $60 million, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Monday.

Ardoin said roughly $10 million is lined up for the replacements, including about $3 million in the budget pending Monday, the last day of the Legislature's latest special session.

Another $5.8 million was provided by the federal government.

Ardoin made his comments to the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

He succeeded former Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who resigned last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed an employee.

Schedler denied the accusations.

Ardoin was Schedler's top aide.

A special election to complete Schedler's term is set for Nov. 6.

A runoff, if needed, will be Dec. 8.

The regular election for Secretary of State – a four-year term – will take place in the fall of 2019.

At one point Ardoin said the office is running smoothly after the "turmoil" before Schedler stepped down, a move he resisted for weeks despite calls to do so from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

The state is in the process of collecting requests for proposals for the new machines.

Ardoin said oral presentations from officials of three firms are set for next week.

He said replacing early voting machines will be the priority because they wear out quicker than the election day variety.

Ardoin said the Legislature provided about $1.5 million last year to help finance the upgrades.

First Assistant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin addressed the Louisiana House & Governmental Affairs committee a few hours after Secretary …

Another $500,000 will come from funds within the Secretary of State's office.

The aim is to complete the process by 2020.

In 1952 the state spent $1.5 million to buy the latest model voting machines, Ardoin said.

In another area, Arboin said the state is trending in the right direction in reducing its number of special elections, in part by taking away the authority of local officials to set elections when they chose.

He said that, between 2005-10, the state held 70 special elections, which was tops in the South.

He said half of those contests were to fill unexpired terms, and about half of that number represented legislative elections.

A statewide special election costs about $6 million.

Candidates for Secretary of State, the U. S. Congress and other offices can file July 18-20.

Ardoin said he has not changed his mind about seeking the office permanently.

"The work we have ahead of us in the short term is too important and too intense to run for the office," he said.

Ardoin said voters should quiz the candidates on voting machine security, hacking, automatic voter registration, felons running for office, voter fraud and Louisiana's election volume.

"Those are the significant issues that face this office," he said. "Do not let the candidates get by with platitudes and promises."

State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, said she plans to seek the office.

A dozen or so others, including additional lawmakers, are said to be considering the contest.

Former state House Speaker Joe Salter is serving as First Assistant Secretary of State, Ardoin's previous job.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.