Grand Traverse County Voters Use New Voting Equipment For First Time

Voting precincts across Grand Traverse County are prepared for Tuesday’s big races using new voting equipment.

For the first time in more than 20 years, voters will be using the latest technology available to vote.

While it will help election workers as they tally those final numbers, more importantly the security of the new equipment is being described as bullet proof.

“The state of Michigan went through a multiyear process to essentially develop the specifications for the new equipment,” said Traverse City clerk Benjamin Marentette.

Improvements include a feature called express vote designed to help voters with disabilities vote independently.

But most of the enhancements are on the back end and voters will not notice a difference.

“I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference in the actual voting process but the machine that takes your ballot, I noticed was new but the system was the same,” said Bill Ewing.

“It’s still a paper ballot which is really important in Michigan that we always have that paper trail that we can go back to if there’s ever a need to verify or double check the count,” said Marentette.

The new equipment is double encrypted, not connected to the internet with a sealed flash drive.

“They would have to come into the polling place, take that flash drive out and crack the seal which would of course all be noticed,” said Marentette. “So it’s very bullet proof in that respect.”

As for election workers, rather than having to go through and look at all the ballots that have write in votes, the new equipment actually takes a picture of the handwriting, eliminating that step and getting you results quicker.