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Grand Traverse County Receives New Voting Equipment Equipment demos to be held in the City and at other local jurisdictions!

by Katelyn Zeits
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Contact: Benjamin Marentette, City Clerk, tcclerk@traversecitymi.gov

The next generation of voting equipment is being implemented in the City of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County! The new equipment offers voters and election workers the speed and convenience of the latest ballot-scanning and election-night reporting.  The new equipment will still use a paper ballot in the event a recount or hand-verification of votes is necessary.

City Clerk Benjamin Marentette, who served for two years on the Secretary of State’s Voting System Advisory Panel to develop the specifications and requirements for the new systems being implemented across the State of Michigan, is glad for the new, improved system.   Marentette said, “Overall, the average voter will see little change in the voting process – voters will still complete a paper ballot and feed it into a tabulator  which tallies the results. The look and feel of the ballots and new tabulator  is similar to that of the previous machines. However, voters can take pride in knowing their ballot is being tabulated using the most up-to-date ballot scanning technology.”  Marentette continues, “The equipment that we will be using has been certified by Federal and State I.T. government laboratories and meets all standards of the United States Federal Election Commission and Michigan Department of State.”

The major changes are  on the back-end and non-voter portion of the process, such as pre-election and post-election reporting, testing and certification requirements. City Clerk’s Department staff and election workers will see an improved system that allows for more efficient closing of polls .

With a new tabulating system, comes a new universally accessible voting device, the ExpressVote! The ExpressVote machine works as a “fancy ink pen” allowing voters of all abilities to independently cast their vote using the touchscreen system, a sip-and-puff device, a rocker panel, or braille equipped remote, if they wish.

While not currently authorized for use in the State of Michigan, Marentette is excited that the ExpressVote has the capability to allow voters to ‘pre-select’ their ballot choices on their smart device and generate a QR code.   When this capability is authorized for use, voters will  bring their smart device to their voting location, scan their individual QR Code, and print a small paper receipt showing their selections; which, when verified by the voter, will be inserted into the tabulator, still providing a paper trail.  Marentette said, “It’s capabilities like this that allow us to engage another segment of our voting population – or to simply encourage more people to vote who prefer to use their smart devices to expedite processes, like checking in for a flight; or in this case, voting.  I look forward to the Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections authorizing this completely-secure, trackable method of voting.”

To ensure voters throughout Grand Traverse County are comfortable with using the new election equipment, the City and other local jurisdictions will be holding open house events to allow anyone to test out the machines! For dates and times of these events, reach out to your local clerk directly.

The City will be hosting an open house on Thursday, June 28, 2018, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Second Floor Training Room of the Governmental Center at 400 Boardman Avenue in Traverse City.  At the open house, anyone interested, regardless if they are registered to vote or live in the City can experience the equipment.  No reservations are needed.

Other communities in Grand Traverse County will be hosting open houses in June; if you prefer to attend an open house in your township, please contact your Township Clerk, although the City welcomes anyone to attend its open house.