County to Open Ballots at a Faster ClipFebruary 10th, 2009 by Steven Gardner
Kitsap County will spend $206,433 to buy equipment to process election ballots quicker.
The county plans to use its election reserve fund to buy the Pitney Bowes Relia-Vote Solution Compact Server, which will increase the county’s ability to scan envelopes and verify signatures four times faster, according to Walt Washington, county auditor.
Dolores Gilmore, county elections manager, said staff now take each ballot envelope and use a handheld scanner to read the exterior bar code. They then by hand compare signatures on the envelopes with those on file.
The Pitney Bowes system will scan the bar codes and create an image of the voter’s signature, placing it next to the signature on file on a screen for an election worker to verify. The new system is expected to be four times faster.
Gilmore said it will probably mean more ballots will be counted sooner in the election process. The bulk are typically counted by the Friday after election day, she said. The new system should get those results in sooner and will require less staff to do it.
Washington, speaking to county commissioners Monday, said the system is estimated to save the county $18,000 in odd -numbered years, 25,000 in even-numbered years and $30,000 in presidential election years.
Money for the system comes out of fees the county collects by those paying for the election. Fifteen percent of those fees are set aside for technology and capital improvements, Gilmore said.
Gilmore said the system will be used for the May election if the county can have it installed that quickly.