Board asked to choose best voting system

By Cecilia Fox -

MIAMI COUNTY — During a meeting with representatives from the Board of Elections, the Miami County Commissioners told the board to choose the “best system for the voters and for the Board of Elections staff,” even if the cost exceeds the reimbursement from the state.

Board of Elections member Ryan King and Director Bev Kendall met with the commissioners Wednesday morning to discuss the county’s options for new voting equipment and to get some direction from them.

“I want to get the best system for our voters and the best system for the board of elections staff. If that means the commission has to invest monies over and above what the state’s willing to help us subsidize, I’m willing to look into that,” Commissioners John “Bud” O’Brien said. “Being a fiscal conservative doesn’t mean buying the cheapest thing because it’s the cheapest thing. I want the best thing possible that we can afford.”

Commissioners Jack Evans and Greg Simmons agreed, with Simmons adding, “Whatever is best for the voters, that’s what I want.”

The county is set to be reimbursed up to $1,096,490 by the state and has received four quotes for new equipment ranging in cost from about $500,000 to about $2 million. The quotes received were from ES&S and Clear Ballot Group.

The options include a system in which voters fill in a paper ballot that is then scanned and recorded, a fully electronic touchscreen system that does not print a paper record, and a hybrid system in which voters use a touchscreen to mark a ballot, which is then printed on paper. The hybrid system is an updated version of the system the county currently uses.

King noted that all results are tabulated electronically, regardless of how the ballots are cast, and added that nothing is connected to the internet. He also said that the Clear Ballot system may not be fully compatible with the county’s current poll books.

“It really comes down to what kind of marking experience we’re ultimately looking for and what is the most efficient process on Election Day,” King said.

The board has been discussing the new voting systems for several months, King said. They delayed taking action until after a meeting could be scheduled with the county commissioners.

By Cecilia Fox

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