Halfway there! (for new voting equipment)

APRIL 19, 2005

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today announced that more than half of Michigan's cities and townships will soon have new optical scan voting equipment.

The state recently completed its second round of voting equipment purchase orders. Forty-one counties and 624 cities and townships placed orders totaling $16.7 million. Purchases are made with federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds.

"Upgrading Michigan's voting system is essential to our overall goal of modernizing elections," said Land, Michigan's chief election officer. "Optical scan technology brings reliability and convenience that voters and election officials will appreciate. Our purchasing process is working extremely well, and I appreciate the enthusiasm and cooperation of our local partners across the state who ensured a smooth rollout of this equipment."

Twenty-seven counties and 199 cities and townships already have the equipment after placing orders last year. All of Michigan's more than 1,500 cities and townships will use the optical scan system by the 2006 election.

Many communities ordering equipment during this second purchase period anticipate having their systems in place for this year's May 3 election.

This purchase is the largest one planned. Last year, orders totaled $2.9 million. At least one more purchase is scheduled later this year. The goal is to have all equipment ordered by the end of 2005.

Each county receives one new optical scan tabulator and election management software, and each jurisdiction receives one tabulator per precinct. Larger jurisdictions may receive additional tabulators to assist with absent-voter ballots and election management software.

The state negotiated contracts with three equipment vendors to fully fund optical scan tabulators and provide election management software, training and maintenance. Costs for counties placing first-time orders also reflect initial software and training expenses. Jurisdictions may purchase extra equipment at a lower price negotiated by the state. The vendors are Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc.

Of the 41 counties participating in the second purchase period, 10 ordered Sequoia equipment, 20 selected Diebold and 11 opted for ES&S.

The largest county orders are:

Oakland 51 $3.7 million ES&S
Wayne 41 (does not  include Detroit) $3.6 million  ES&S
Kent  30 $1.7 million ES&S
Ingham 21 $840,000 Sequoia
Ottawa  23 $760,000  ES&S
Macomb $705,000 Diebold
Washtenaw 23 $650,000   Diebold

About 100 jurisdictions will be reimbursed for optical scan systems purchased between November 2000 and July 2003. They will keep that equipment rather than replace it. The reimbursement process will be finalized in the coming months.

Michigan's Public Act 91 of 2002 requires the state to select a standard, uniform voting system. Land announced in August 2003 that Michigan is adopting a precinct-based optical scan tabulation system. Optical scan equipment lets voters indicate their ballot choices on a paper form by marking designated areas with a pen or pencil.

Under the precinct-based system, voters insert their completed ballots into an electronic tabulator. The tabulator reads and stores ballot totals, and alerts voters to potential problems such as voting for too many candidates in a particular race.

The paper ballot is then channeled into a storage bin where it remains until the polls close.

Visit www.michigan.gov/hava for more information about the vendors or the purchasing process.

A list of the 41 counties is attached