CORUNNA — County election results could be reported online in real time, thanks to a Board of Commissioners decision Thursday to purchase new election software.
The software from Michigan-based Election Source will be installed onto the county’s website and available to everyone. It provides a wide range of election data in real-time for users, including the number of votes cast, turnout percentages and how many registered voters there are in precincts.
The software will cost the county $7,500 for installation, and $1,500 per year in licensing fees.
The purchase was approved Thursday, 6-1, with Commissioner Cindy Garber, R-District 6, casting the only no vote, citing cost concerns.
Steve Delongchamp, vice president of Election Source, attended Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and gave a presentation on the software and its capabilities.
Delongchamp discussed the importance of election security and the steps his company takes to ensure that its software is safe from hackers. He said his company is in regular contact with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Elections Commission to ensure the company is doing everything it can.
Delongchamp described how his company’s system is capable of handling large numbers of visitors.
During the 2018 mid-term elections, Delongchamp said, Election Sources’ website had close to 7 million hits and was used by media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to report election results.
The website received 3 million hits within three hours of polls closing.
The county clerk has the ability to pull the website offline instantly if there are any suspected reporting errors or other problems, he said.
Currently, there are 14 counties in Michigan using the software, including Kent and Saginaw counties, as well as the city of Detroit.
Jerrid Uzarski, the elections director for Kent County, previously worked for Election Source as a technical services manager. He said Kent County has had the software in place for several years.
“Before, we had it people would be up all night answering phone calls trying to get information out to everyone like different media outlets,” he said. “Now that we have it, that information is available in realtime for our residents and media outlets.”
The actual voting process will remain the same. The only change is how the data is uploaded to the county website.
Election workers will transfer voter tabulations from machines and, instead of being uploaded to the county’s own server, the information will be uploaded into Election Source’s servers and placed onto the county’s website.
“From my experience in doing this, that website is the No. 1 place to go for election results. Other counties, for whatever reason, can’t report results fast enough and they all go to (Election Source),” Commissioner Dan McMaster, R-District 2, said during the discussion.
The only problem he saw with the software was that it could not provide a complete picture for the 85th State House District representative race.
The seat spans multiple counties and Election Source’s software is not able to combine county data, so when someone views the county’s website for results on that race they will not be able to see all the precincts.
To get an accurate result, someone would have to do what they no now, view each county’s website.
Delongchamp did not know if the company would have time to get the software up and running before the March primary because it will take a couple of months to, as he put it, “map the county.”