Pierce County Elections changes ballot system

PIERCE COUNTY — Aftera year-long search and selection process, the Pierce County Auditor’s Office has purchased a new election system.  The purchase of the Clear Ballot system is Pierce County’s first major investment in a new tabulation system in over 20 years. The purchase was fully funded with a restricted election replacement account authorized by the Pierce County Council.  The Pierce County Auditor’s Office has been setting aside funds and carefully nurturing the account for the past five years and spent $790,400 for the equipment, software, licensing and installation.

The Clear Ballot system will be used in the August 1 Primary Election.

“To say that we’re excited is an understatement,” said Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor. “The introduction of Clear Ballot will add even more integrity and transparency and enhance Pierce County’s outstanding reputation for reliability. While very little will change for voters – we’re still voting by mail – the differences in the central count process will be significantly more efficient and will provide world class audit accountability.”

Pierce County is celebrating with an Open House for the General Public on Thursday, March 30 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm.  Attendees will get to tour the Election Center, hear presentations about new procedures see Clear Ballot in action, and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

On Wednesday, March 29 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, a smaller event will be held specifically for media, Political Party officials, and designated Political Party Observers.

Jordan Esten, Clear Ballot’s Chief Operating Officer says, “Pierce County continues to be a state and national leader in election administration and innovation, and is the first county in Washington to adopt Clear Ballot’s groundbreaking technology.  We’re looking forward to building a lasting partnership with the county and the community.  We hope to meet many voters during the March open house to publicly demonstrate Clear Ballot’s efficiency to the county, transparency to the public, and accessibility to all voters.”

The Clear Ballot, ClearVote system has three components:

1.     ClearCount – performs ballot scanning and tabulation and is the hallmark of the new system.  ClearCount moves Pierce County into digital scan technology, leaving behind outdated and inefficient optical scanning methods. The scanners are expected to reduce unreadable ballots by 90%. Previously, these unreadable ballots required manual duplication slowing results reporting and adding to the overall cost of the election. In the November 2016 General Election, over 50,000 ballots required manual duplication. Other innovative features of ClearCount include voter intent “visualization” and ballot auditing.

2.     ClearDesign – is the ballot design software, and will change the look of the ballot. Starting with this year’s August Primary, voters will no longer “connect the arrow.” Instead, voters will fill in an oval, which is more familiar to the general population, easier to mark, and similar to tests taken in public schools.

3.     ClearAccess – is a modern accessible ballot-marking device that will be available for voters living with disabilities, who seek assistance at Pierce County’s Voting Centers. This system allows each voter to mark their ballot digitally, review their ballot and then print a two-sided, full-face ballot for tabulation at the Election Center. The system is fully accessible for a wide range of differing abilities that accommodate differences in sight and/or dexterity.

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