MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections met earlier this week, discussing the department’s recent logic and accuracy testing of their voting machines and their ongoing issues with their voter registration system, in addition to other agenda items.
Phil Mote, a seasonal employee of the department, explained that the logic and accuracy testing went well on the department’s voting machines. The machines went through around 20 tests each.
“The workers did a great job,” Mote said. “I feel confident that we’re going to put on a good election.”
As for issues that came up during the testing, Mote stated that the touchscreens on the machines are near the end of their lifespan. Mote also explained that the “biggest problem” the department has with some of their machines is that an individual will go to vote for one candidate, but the machine will “jump up and hit the other one.”
“That’s a real problem out in the field,” Mote said, attributing the issue to the age of the machines. “They’re going on 10 years old, I think,” he said.
“I’ve been on the board 11 years and these are the only machines we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” board member Bob Huffman said.
“I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know what your budget is, but I would certainly look at doing something in the near future on those,” Mote said.
“Based upon your programming and your testing, are you satisfied that that bug that you just described is not present in any of the machines?” board member Jose Lopez asked.
All of the machines that were found to have that glitch were set aside and will not be used for the primary election in March. Mote said that there were about 25 machines with that glitch.
“I’m not saying it couldn’t happen out in the field,” Mote said.
“The cure is to segregate them,” Huffman said. “We can’t fix one that has that problem, we’ve just taken it out.”
In response to Huffman asking what the remedy would be, Mote explained that if a voter comes across that issue while they are in the middle of voting, they can tell a poll worker. At that point, the machine should be removed from use and a worker should call their troubleshooter.
The voter can still use another machine to vote if they did not cast their ballot on the previous machine. However, if the voter has already cast his or her ballot, the voter cannot submit another ballot. Mote noted that voters probably will not notice the glitch if it occurs, but he also stated that he was confident that the board’s office had removed all of the malfunctioning voting machines.
“Thanks for all the hard work,” chairman Kelly Gillis said.
As for the voting registration, the issues in accessing information within that system are ongoing.
“Is it going to get fixed?” Lopez asked. “Is it manageable?”
“It hasn’t crashed,” Deputy Director Eric Morgan said about the system. Morgan explained that the system is still functional on a small number of their computers. On other computers, though, the office is still having trouble opening documents within the voter registration system.
The board requested that Morgan and Director Bev Kendall talk to their voter registration system vendor Triad about having someone on location at the board’s office when absentee and early voting begins on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Triad is reportedly the same vendor for the voter registration systems in 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Morgan and Kendall also presented a quote for a new voter registration system to possibly be purchased and installed after the March 15 presidential primary election. The system comes from Data Information Management Systems, LLC (DIMS), a privately held company associated with Elections Systems and Software, and it is called Dims-NeT, or New Election Technology by DIMS.
The cost for the first year of getting the software is approximately $55,000. Over five years, licensing fees will add up to approximately $204,156. This same system is used in Ashland, Butler, Clermont, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Hancock, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Medina, Mercer, Morrow, Richland, Stark, Trumbull, Wayne, and Wood counties.
At the end of the meeting, Huffman noted that his time serving the board of elections was coming to a close. While it was not his last meeting serving on the board, the board took a moment to thank Huffman for his service.
“All of us, Bob, owe you a debt of gratitude,” Lopez said.
“It’s been fun,” Huffman said. “It’s challenging. It’s hard … Growing up, election day was a big day in my house, and being part of it at this level makes it even more interesting.”
Both Huffman’s and Gillis’ terms are up, but Gillis is still hoping to come back.
“I’ll stay if I get re-elected,” Gillis said.
“You’ve been a great chairman,” Huffman said.
The Republican Party in Miami County will be choosing a replacement for Huffman. The Democratic Party in Miami County will either be re-appointing Gillis or appointing a new, registered democrat to Gillis’ seat.
Lopez noted that even though the board members are a mix of Republican and Democrat, that did not interfere with their decisions.
“Politics have never played a role in any of the decisions we’ve made,” Lopez said. “I feel good about that … Running a good election is bipartisan.”
Also approved during the meeting:
• The purchase of 35 batteries for the voting machines from Dominion for $3,675
• Lending a voting machine to Riverside Developmental Disabilities to run a mock election
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall