MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections met in a special session this week to see a demonstration of new voting machine equipment available from Dominion Voting Systems.
Dominion is the board’s current support vendor for their Diebold voting machines and has been since Dominion purchased Diebold about seven years ago.
“It’s been a privilege, and we honor that trust you have in us,” Mark Beckstrand, Dominion’s regional sales manager for Ohio, said.
During the two-hour presentation, Dominion discussed their Democracy Suite products. Those products began with ImageCast X with a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) printer, which was Dominion’s direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine option closest to what the county currently uses.
Currently, the county’s Diebold voting machines have the VVPAT printer attached to the touchscreen, but they are separate in the ImageCast X kit. ImageCast X features a large touchscreen where users can change text size or other viewer options, such as whether the text is black on a white background or vice versa. Voters can also skip through their ballot by clicking on tabs for specific ballot races or issues at the top of the screen.
“You don’t have to page through the entire ballot,” Beckstrand said.
The VVPAT printer also has a scanner inside of it to create another ballot record.
ImageCast X and Dominion’s other product, ImageCast Evolution, are compatible with a variety of poll books that utilize smart card activation.
Beckstrand described ImageCast Evolution as a hybrid device between touchscreen technology and optical scan technology. ImageCast Evolution is a tabulator and ballot marking device. It has a touchscreen that marks a ballot for the voter, prints out a ballot with a QR code on it, and tabulates the votes when the voter submits it in the tabulator. A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode on it that is used with smart phone technology.
“This is not recording anything,” Beckstrand said about the ballot-marking touchscreen. Beckstrand also described it as a “touchscreen interface with a ballot print feature.”
Beckstrand said that ImageCast Evolution is currently being used in Colorado and Michigan.
Board member Audrey Gillespie asked what would happen if someone tried to copy a QR code on one of the printed ballots and submitted multiple copies of that QR code into the tabulator.
Beckstrand said that copying the QR code would obfuscate it, implying the tabulator would not be able to register the copy.
Beckstrand also showed the board their ImageCast Precinct, on optical scanner that they have available if the county desired to go back to paper ballots.
There are no current plans to purchase new voting machines, but the board received a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office earlier this year to determine and discuss their need for voting machines with the Miami County Board of Commissioners. The board’s current voting machines are 12 years old.
The board also held a vendor day for multiple businesses to display their voting machines in September.
In other news:
The board discussed purchasing BallotSync software, of which the board had participated in a free pilot.
BallotSync allows the board to work with the boards of elections in neighboring counties on elections and issues that cross over county lines. Recent examples include the levy for Miami Valley Career Technology Center, along with elections and levies for Bradford voters.
“Montgomery County is buying into it,” Deputy Director Luke Scott of the Miami County Board of Elections said. “It makes things very simple.”
Board member Ryan King asked if there would be opportunities to offset the cost of purchasing this software, such as hiring less seasonal staff. Scott said that he believed there would be opportunities for that.
King questioned how worth it Scott believed the software to be, saying that “there’s a lot of things that would be convenient.”
Scott said that the software would be a protection for the board and that it “restores trust” in the board.
“It really does protect from lawsuits,” Scott said.
The board did not vote on the purchase, requesting more clarity on the cost.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336