Secretary of State backs plan to replace election equipment

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson issued the following statement regarding the governor’s budget proposal announced today that calls for $10 million in state support to help local communities buy new election equipment:

“I appreciate Governor Snyder’s commitment to upgrading our state’s aging election equipment. I look forward to working with lawmakers now to win their support for this reasonable plan, and I encourage city and township leaders to offer their support as well. Our election equipment has served us well, but we should act before we start seeing widespread equipment failures as the machines reach the end of their useful life.”

In addition to the $10 million in state dollars proposed today by the governor, the department has been a prudent steward of federal Help America Vote Act dollars and has more than $25 million that can be used to pay for new equipment. The governor’s budget proposal also calls for local communities to pay $5 million toward the equipment that they will own and maintain.

The Bureau of Elections has worked with the Department of Management and Budget to seek proposals from election equipment vendors that offer upgraded voting systems. Election system proposals are due by mid-March.

Michigan will continue to use a voting system that features a paper ballot that is marked by a voter. The request seeks proposals to replace the tabulators that count voted paper ballots, election-management software, voting devices that assist voters with disabilities and other related items.

The equipment voters now use was rolled out in 2004 and 2005 when Michigan began using optical-scan voting systems statewide. Those systems were fully paid by federal Help America Vote Act money. Michigan is one of the only states with federal funds still available to assist with the purchase of the next generation voting system.

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