by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

ELECTION SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE REPRESENTATIVES, out of Omaha, NE were on hand at a vendor fair put on by Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Caledonia Township Hall.

   They are shown presenting their election equipment and software capabilities to clerks from Shiawassee and Livingston counties. A previous vendor presentation was given earlier in Livingston county. In all, three companies were approved for the Michigan voting equipment revamps by Michigan Secretary of State. (Independent Photo/Elizabeth Wehman)

New voting equipment will be available for the next statewide election, as soon as August of 2018, after Michigan Secretary of State announced the approval of contracts between three vendors. Three possible vendors were approved by Michigan Secretary of State and include Dominion Voting Systems of Toronto, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, NE and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas. Hart InterCivic from Texas presented to the group previously in Livingston County.

The cost to the state for the new equipment will be between $52 and $82 million. Thirty million of those dollars will come from the leftover funds from the federal Help America Vote Acts funds provided to states for new equipment after the 2000 elections. In addition, Legislature recently approved an additional $10 million last year to pay for the new machines. Additional costs to pay for the machines will be roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per precinct.

The State Administrative Board recently authorized up to $82.1 million in spending over the next 10 years. The three vendors will provide new tabulator machines, election-management software, and long-term maintenance. The new machines promise to offer voters all the speed and conveniences of the latest ballot-scanning and election-night reporting technology, but still offer a paper ballot to go back and scan, if needed.

Michigan purchased new voting machines in 2004 and 2005, but updates to the software and hardware equipment run just like computers and need to be updated.

The state had been developing plans to purchase new voting machines long before the November 2016 election and the recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The digital ballot-scanning technology should help reduce jams, allow ballot images to be store electronically for review during possible post-election audits.

Shiawassee County clerks will meet in March to select their vendor choice.

Local Clerks Attend Vendor Fair was last modified: February 27th, 2017 by Karen Elford