By JOHN RISHEL
LOCK HAVEN — The Clinton County Election Board has decided to purchase new voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems Corporation.
The Clinton County Election Board, which consists of Commissioner Pete Smeltz, court administrator Don Powers and President Craig P. Miller, met in a special meeting Thursday morning to come to a decision on which company from which to buy new voting machines.
The upgrade is necessary to meet a statewide mandate from Gov. Tom Wolf.
“Over the past six months, the Voter Registration and Elections Office, in conjunction with the IT department, has researched the purchase of new voting equipment,” said county voter registrar Maria Boileau. “Beginning in August, price quotes were obtained from four companies including Election Systems and Software, Dominion Voting, Unisyn Voting Solutions and Clear Ballot Group, Inc. All four companies provided an on-site demonstration of their equipment.
Boileau noted that considerations included the quality of the product, the voter’s experience with the new equipment, the election worker’s experience, delivery and pick up, election night reporting, future costs for warranties and licenses, additional equipment costs including privacy screens and voting booths, printing costs, supplies such as batteries and printer cartridge replacement and the recount-adjudication process.
“During the review process, the 2018 Board of Elections indicated that they preferred a paper system with an ADA device at each polling place. This was the least expensive solution and one that they felt provides voters with the most confidence in the election process. Please note that with each system that paper ballots will increase the Elections budget by as much as $7,500 per election. Each quote below does not include the purchase of the privacy screens and voting booths. Based on several estimates, the purchase of the voting booths will cost approximately $25,000. The following is the total cost for voting equipment provided by each vendor.
Bids from the four companies included:
– Dominion; at the cost of $297,740.
– Unisyn; at the cost of $299,605.
– Election Systems and Software; at the cost of $356,256.
– ClearBallot; at the cost of $364,700.
“There will be a service agreement coming in the future, this price covers the year one cost and upfront purchase,” Boileau further explained. “All companies had exceptional products, and it will be an adjustment to the way things are currently done. Cleanup time and IT prepping will be greatly reduced due to this new technology.”
“Clinton County saw a great effort from these supply companies. They gave a lot of attention to our issues and addressed them all. It is a detailed, complicated decision, but I think moving forward with Dominion is what is best for the county,” said Ernie Jackson, network security engineer.
With that, Judge Miller made a motion to approve Dominion as the company to make this purchase from. Don Powers seconded the motion and Smeltz provided the unanimous vote.
Smeltz noted that he has been “part of this process from the beginning, and was able to take part in the voting demonstrations.”
Though the law requires that those running for re-election in an election year can not sit on the Board of Elections, Smeltz is not running for re-election so he maintained the authority on the decision.
Commissioners Jeff Snyder and Paul Conklin, who are seeking new terms, were present in the audience of that meeting, and seemed to support the decision.
Dominion is a “results-driven organization,” according to its website, dominionvoting.com.
In today’s election market, Dominion Voting Systems “sets itself apart with a commitment to customer service, convenience, and a superior use of technology to provide you with the best possible tools possible to meet your election challenges.”
The county will work through the primary election with the older voting equipment, explained Boileau.
“Over the summer we will provide training for all of our precinct election workers and facilitate demonstrations for the public. The new voting machines will be in place for the general election in November.”