Michigan rolling out new voting equipment for Nov. 7 election

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GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (10/27/2017) - Election day is just over a week away and some voters will notice a change at the polls.

After extensive testing over the past year, the State of Michigan is rolling out new election equipment on Nov. 7 that is designed to be simple to use, faster and more secure.

"We needed new machines because the ones that we had were 10 years old and they are nearing their end of life. So, we've been planning this for years," said Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

What's new are two devices.

A briefcase-sized tabulator and machines the give voters with accessibility issues more freedom and privacy when voting. These machines use regular paper, instead of heavier card-stock, which will save communities thousands of dollars in ballot printing costs.

The State of Michigan has set aside $40 million dollars in funds to pay for the new election devices, which cost up to $4,000 apiece, so local cities and townships won't have to scramble to find money to pay for them.

You may also notice slight changes from the current election ballots.

"There's three vendors. So, two vendors use ovals and Hart uses squares. That's all it is, is you fill it in instead of an oval you fill in a square," Johnson said.

Scanning technology has been improved, with an easy to read video screen, which will help voters with their ballot.

Software upgrades will help increase security, as well as save time and money to prepare for elections and provide election results.

And there are back-up systems in place too.

"Paper ballots can be recounted at any time. They're sealed in a bag and they're kept for, they used to be kept for two years. I got the law changed to four years, so that we have that integrity even if we find something a few years past the election," Johnson said.

By August of next year, all Michigan counties will switch over to the new equipment, just in time for the Congressional mid-term elections.

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