County will purchase new voting database

Island County will soon switch to a voter registration database that will allow for a statewide system expected to screen out illegal voters and even votes cast in the names of the deceased.

On May 4, the Island County Auditor’s office received permission to purchase a system from VoTec, a San Diego, Calif., based company that manages elections databases in 14 states.

“This will allow us to be compatible with a statewide system and to be able to be up to date,” Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said.

Once a statewide voter database is established, it could eliminate voter problems such as an allegation that five convicted felons voted in the November election in Island County. Unless reinstated, convicted felons are stripped of their voting rights.

Two other felons allegedly attempted to vote in the county in November, but those were discovered by the Island County Canvassing Board at the time.

The VoTec system establishes a database of all registered voters, allows elections officials to print poll books which are used to verify identities, and it manages the status of voters’ registrations.

The estimated cost of the database is approximately $177,000, which includes five years of maintenance. Island County will only pay $27,600; the Washington Secretary of State will pick up the remainder of the tab.

The $136,492 from the state comes from the federal Help America Vote Act, which mandates several steps states must take to make voting easier and smoother.

Sinclair said that the current system is sufficient, however, the upgrade is welcome.

“The old database was constructed in such a way that the Secretary of State’s office couldn’t synch up,” she said.

The new database will be compatible with the state’s system.

The next step for the county is to purchase an optical-scan ballot system. This will establish the use of fill-in-the-bubble style ballots. Sinclair said she expects to begin the process of finding a vendor by the end of the month.

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