February 13, 2017

Kalamazoo County Clerks See Why ES&S Is #MadeForMichigan

Following the Michigan Secretary of State’s announcement of voting system vendors, Kalamazoo County clerks participated in a demonstration lead by Kathy Dornan of ES&S. Clerks across the state are in the process of acquiring new equipment for the statewide primary election in 2018, but Kalamazoo plans to have updated equipment before August of this year. The demonstration covered ES&S’ universal voting system, the ExpressVote® and updated tabulator technology including the DS200® . The voting process will be familiar to voters, while making Election Day easier for all with updated technology, immediate voter feedback and paper back-ups.

"It's an interesting transition; in some ways there's not much change, but it's brand new in terms of capture technology," City of Kalamazoo Borling said. "It goes without saying (voting machines) have to be able to tabulate votes correctly," Borling said. "As someone who has to train poll workers, it has to be simple to use and have a paper record."


The new machines are smaller, easier to handle and move around as well. Clerks cheered out loud Wednesday when ES&S revealed ballot boxes could be wheeled around like luggage. 


For more information about the Kalamazoo County clerks’ reaction to the ES&S demo, read the M Live article below and for information about our visionary voting products made for Michigan visit essvote.com/Michigan.


*Images taken from M Live - photographer is Carly Geraci.

 



Kalamazoo County clerks test new voting machines for August election

By Malachi Barrett, M Live 

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Voting machines are being replaced in Kalamazoo County after more than a decade of use.
The State Administrative Board announced clerks across the state will soon purchase new machines under 10-year contracts approved on Jan. 25. On Thursday, clerks from across Kalamazoo County attended a demonstration of new voting machines manufactured by Election Systems and Software, an Omaha, Neb. based vendor that built the county's current machines. 


Clerks will choose from one of three vendors, including Election Systems and Software, Dominion Voting Systems of Toronto and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Tex.

While Kalamazoo plans to have the new equipment available for use in local elections in August, all clerks will be required to make the machines available for the statewide primary election in 2018. Kalamazoo County Clerk Tim Snow said Dominion Voting Systems presented its machine last week and he will consult with local clerks to determine his selection within two weeks.


Snow said the technology in the county's current machines was already old when they were purchased in 2004, however Kalamazoo has never had a major problem with the machines malfunctioning. The Michigan Bureau of Elections provided reports on differences among the vendors, which Snow said were small nuances in features.
All of the systems accept votes similarly to machines used during the Nov. 8 presidential election, but Snow said software and hardware improvements in the last 15 years have been "huge."


Though a voter still marks a paper ballot and feeds it through a scanning machine, newer models like the Election Systems and Software tabulator now take a digital picture of the ballot in addition to retaining the paper ballot. It's also much faster, able to handle 10-12 ballots per minute and wirelessly send results through a cell phone signal to the Kalamazoo County Clerk's Office.


"The bigger piece is how the software works," Snow said. We're going to take a look at that in a lot of detail. A tabulator counts ballots. It's a simple function, but it needs to be done well and quickly."
City of Kalamazoo Clerk Scott Borling said maintaining a paper record is essential in the case of recounts, like the one that happened in Michigan just months ago. Borling said the new equipment will be much less error-prone and more sturdy.


"It's an interesting transition; in some ways there's not much change, but it's brand new in terms of capture technology," Borling said. "It goes without saying (voting machines) have to be able to tabulate votes correctly," Borling said. "As someone who has to train poll workers, it has to be simple to use and have a paper record."

The new machines are smaller, easier to handle and move around as well. Clerks cheered out loud Wednesday when ES&S revealed ballot boxes could be wheeled around like luggage.

Digital touch screens give voters feedback if they filled out a ballot incorrectly, and an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant machine offers accessible alternatives to paper ballots. It has headphones, a foot pedal and hand buttons in addition to a touch screen. One tabulator will be purchased per precinct and Kalamazoo County is replacing all of its auto-mark equipment for residents who have a disability.


The state will pick up portion of the cost depending on which systems clerks choose, Snow said. The total cost of replacing voting systems statewide will be between $52 and $82 million.
The state-approved contracts set a maximum price, however each county can negotiate for a lower price with vendor.


The state will cover $40 million using a legislative appropriation of $10 million and $30 million in leftover federal money from the 2002 Help America Vote Act. However, ES&S vendors announced that communities who choose their system, which will cost $52 million, the state will pick up 100 percent of the cost. The first five years of maintenance will also be free.


The Dominion contract, which is $70 million, would result in the state picking up 82 percent of the cost, while Hart InterCivic machines are the most expensive option at $82 million. The state would only handle 72.6 percent of the cost.