Kittitas County rolls out new voting system this year

New Election System

Shawn Phillips, at right, with Hart InterCivic, talks with a group of election officials from Benton County during a demonstration in the Kittitas County Auditor’s Office of the new election system developed by his company on Tuesday.

The Kittitas County Auditor’s Office has purchased a new voting system for use in this year’s general election that will save time and money for the county, Auditor Jerry Pettit said.

Kittitas County invited representatives from every county in Washington state to come to an open house on Tuesday, where Hart InterCivic representatives answered questions and demonstrated the new Verity Voting System. County employees trained on Verity last month.

Pettit said the new digital scan system will be more efficient because it allows the county to duplicate fewer ballots. When a ballot is damaged, has too many options marked or has inconsistencies, it must be duplicated and checked over. Because the digital scan system takes a full picture scan of the front and back of the ballot, the need for duplication will be less.

Duplicating the ballots involves many hours of work for employees as they had to do the duplication process by hand. Now, the duplication rarely needs to be done by hand, Pettit said.

“They’ve been a very good company to work with over the years,” Pettit said.

The new voting system has updates for voters with disabilities, including an easier to use button system for those with visual needs. The system complies with guidelines established by the United States Election Assistance Commission in its Design for Democracy plan, for how to make voting more accessible to all people.

The physical equipment is lighter, meaning that it is easier for counties to transport around to voting centers.

The county works with Hart InterCivic, an election services company that provides election technology to 26 of the 29 Washington state counties.

The county has used Hart’s first-generation digital voting system, the Hart Voting System, since they began working with Hart. The exact cost of the new system wasn’t immediately available.

“Choosing Verity was a natural progression for us,” said Kittitas County Election Supervisor Sue Higginbotham, in a press release June 6. “We’ve been with Hart since 2005, and we know and trust them. The new system is flexible, easy to learn and up to date.”

Justin Morris, Hart’s director of sales for the West, said the news system goes beyond requirements at the state level because it is also certified at the federal level.