GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –The 2016 general election was an election like no other, with intense focus on election integrity. Michigan voters are now more interested than ever in the quality and security of the voting process.
Michigan’s voting equipment is a couple decades old, says Jeffery DeLongchamp, president of ElectionSource, the Grand Rapids based dealer of Dominion Voting Systems, the only election equipment distributor based in Michigan.
The state of Michigan has approved three different voting systems, and now it’s up to the county clerks to decide which voting system they will purchase and use for the next 10 to15 years. The three approved election equipment companies are Hart InterCivic, Election Systems and Software, and Dominion Voting Systems.
“We employ over 70 people in the state of Michigan on election year,” DeLongchamp said. He says his system is better, safer and more reliable than the rest.
Based on state evaluation, Dominion has the highest rated equipment at the second to lowest price. Dominion Voting Systems scored a 91 out of 100, compared to 82 from ES&S and 80 from HartCivic.
Dominion’s system “uses the latest chips, the latest technology, the latest security to keep our voting process safe and secure,” DeLongchamp said. “We have an ADA touchscreen that prints a ballot on a plain sheet of paper.”
The touchscreen tabulator allows voters to return ballots if they make a mistake.
The company’s high-speed absentee voter scanner counts 3,000 ballots per hour and 21,000 per day. It’s not only fast, says DeLongchamp, more importantly it’s accurate.
“It’s all being paid for by the taxpayers of the state of Michigan and through the federal government,” DeLongchamp said. He then went on to add that if county clerks choose ElectionSource and Dominion, a lot of money will stay here in our state.
Since election security is important, “they have no access to the internet; there’s no way to hack them,” DeLongchamp said.
We’re told there are two deadlines for county clerks to make their decision: March 10 is the deadline for counties planning to use this equipment in August and April 14th is the deadline for counties planning to use the equipment in November or next year.
FOX 17 reached out to the Kent County clerk, and the office told us they’ll be looking at the three different choices within the next couple of weeks and will make their decision soon after.
The Bureau of Elections has allocated federal grant funds left over from the Help America Vote Act and additional state funds to cover the entire cost of new equipment. Any costs in excess of the state reimbursement would have to come from the local level.
The least the state would pay is still more than $50 million.
If you’re interested in finding out what your county plans to do, contact your county clerk and/or state senators or local representative.