New voting equipment could make process smoother in 63 Michigan communities

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BAY COUNTY (WJRT) - (07/14/17) - If you're someone who has been less than thrilled with the voting process, you'll want to listen up.

When some of you head to the polls this August, there will be some noticeable changes.

Sometimes voting can be a headache, but the state says new equipment in 63 Michigan communities is going to make the process a lot smoother for everyone - from the voter to those working behind the scenes.

Bay County Clerk Cynthia Luczak says she was involved in the last implementation of a new voting system 12 years ago. That equipment is now on its way out of the door as she prepares her county for the Aug. 8 election.

"We started this process the middle of last year in conjunction with the state of Michigan, Bureau of Elections, some Help America Vote Act dollars that are available under a grant agreement,” she said.

She says nearly $407,000 in grant money is helping to make Bay County one of just 12 counties in our state to receive the equipment. 63 communities within those counties will benefit.

"The features that we're most excited about is that we'll be able to remotely modem our results to election central to my office,” Luczak said.

This will make the process faster. Voters will still be using the digital optical scanning method where you fill out an oval to mark your ballot. The write-in process is the same, too, but your voting experience will change in other ways.

"What you will notice when you do go to the polls is that the equipment will be smaller, it will be more efficient. It will be quieter. It will be self-contained, lightweight in a new clamshell, plastic container, where our equipment before was a big metal box that was cumbersome and noisy,” Luczak said.

Additionally, an "express vote" machine should make the process faster for people with disabilities.

"Persons who are even as incapacitated as quadriplegic status who cannot use their arms or legs also has a pointer device that would be strapped up to their head and could vote the touch screen - make the voting choices with a pointer,” Luczak said.

The new equipment will debut Aug. 8 for communities who have elections at that time. For a list of all of the counties receiving the equipment, click the link in the ‘Related Links’ section of this story.

By August 2018, all cities and townships throughout the state will have the new equipment.

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