New voting system ready for its closeup

Pierce County will give its citizens a preview Thursday of how they will vote and their ballots will be counted beginning this year.

An open house at the county elections center in Tacoma from 5 to 7 p.m. will include presentations about the new Clear Ballot system. Voters can also participate in hands-on demonstrations of the system and tour the elections facility.

Earlier this year, the county announced the acquistion of the new voting system. Its equipment, software, licensing and installation will cost $790,400.

The Clear Ballot system, developed by the same-named company that’s bsaed in Boston, Mass., will make Pierce County’s elections better from a vote-casting and counting perspective, according to officials. Among other things, they said, digital scanning and tabulation of ballots will replace older, less efficient optical scanning methods. The new, more modern scanners are expected to reduce the number of unreadable ballots that in past elections required manual duplication, which slowed down the reporting of results reporting and added to the overall cost of elections.

In the 2016 general election last November alone, more than 50,000 ballots required the manual handling, officials noted. The new digital system also is expected to bolster the ballot auditing process.

In addition to the open house March 30 for the general public, a smaller preview that afternoon will be held for the news media and political party officials, said Auditor Julie Anderson, who oversees the county’s elections.


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