Oakland County in process of purchasing new voting equipment

Oakland County has selected Hart InterCivic’s Verity Voting System as its new voting equipment. Hart InterCivic was one of three vendors that entered into 10-year contracts with the State of Michigan in January. This is part of a statewide initiative to replace the 12-year-old equipment being used statewide.

New voting equipment is coming to Oakland County as soon as August.

County officials, along with input from local clerks, have selected Hart InterCivic’s Verity Voting System. The company has an office based in Oakland County, which makes local customer service easier.

In January, The State of Michigan entered into three, 10-year contracts with vendors, who manufacture voting equipment, as part of a statewide initiative to replace the 12-year-old equipment being used across Michigan.

“We want everyone in Oakland County to be completely confident in the election process,” said Lisa Brown, Oakland County Clerk and Register od Deeds. “Verity has security features like preventing a ballot from being counted twice that will instill that confidence.”

Joe Rozell, the county’s elections director, said the system’s electronic transmission capabilities caught his eye.

“When precincts send their results to the county via modem for accumulation and reporting, the process will be more secure and we’ll easily be able to track which precincts have sent results and which haven’t,” he said. “Only Verity adds the assurance of a federally-certified solution.”

The new equipment includes optical scan tabulators, accessible voting devices, and Election Management System software.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in January that the new voting systems could be in use as soon as August and that all cities and townships statewide will have the equipment by August 2018 in time for the next scheduled statewide election

Oakland County has applied for a Help America Vote Act grant, a state grant, to purchase the new equipment in the amount of $228,920. The county will pay $150,000 more to purchase additional equipment and professional services not covered by the grant.

State issued funding will cover most of the up-front costs for the equipment while the remaining costs will be paid for by the cities and townships who will receive the equipment.

The amount paid by local municipalities depends on which vendor is selected, and for extended service and maintenance, which will begin in the sixth year of the contract period

In addition to beefed up security, Brown said the new voting equipment will be wheelchair-friendly.

“You can see that a lot of thought went into the design of the voting system,” she said. “A person in a wheelchair can actually reach the accessible ballot marking device and tabulator. We like that all the ballots use the same type of paper. Voters who use the accessible device don’t get a different type of ballot.”

Earlier this year, a vendor fair was held by Brown and county election officials allowing local clerks to provide feedback and see the equipment available for purchase themselves.