AURORA | For the first time since H. Ross Perot first graced a ballot, Arapahoe County voters will cast their votes on a new voting system this year.
The county announced last week it had purchased a $1.1-million voting system that would be ready for the June primary.
Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane said the new system is faster, easier to use and easier to repair than the 20-year-old system the county used before.
“If we thought there was any risk, we wouldn’t be moving forward in a presidential year,” he said.
County commissioners voted unanimously last week to purchase the system, which includes voting and tabulation equipment, computer software and hardware, upgrades, warranties, training and support.
Crane said the new contract lasts eight years, so the new system will be used in at least two presidential elections and several mid-term races.
The county’s old system relied on 10-year-old voting machines, 20-year-old tabulation machines, and 20-year-old election management software and hardware, the county said in a statement announcing the purchase.
Crane said Arapahoe is one of 20 counties around the state implementing this system this year. By 2020 it will be the standard around the state.
The system is the same one Denver County used last year, Crane said, and election officials around the state are already familiar with it.
The system includes touch-screen tablets for voters who opt not to vote via mail ballot, Crane said, and those touchscreens shave a couple minutes off the voting process for each voter.
“If we are looking at lines on Election Day, one to two minutes adds up fast,” he said.
Jennifer Morrell, deputy of elections at the clerk’s office, said the new system operates entirely on a closed system, which means it’s never connected to the internet, which ensures nobody but election staff can access any of the data.
Another perk of the system is that the equipment is all readily available at local retailers, Morrell said, which will make it easy for the county to replace anything that runs into problems. The scanners are made by Canon and attached to Dell desktop computers, both of which can be easily replaced.
The vendor that sells the system, Dominion Voting Systems, has been working with the county for 30 years, Morrell said, and is the same one that sold the county its previous system.
On Tuesday, officials from the company were at the county’s elections center in Littleton helping Arapahoe and El Paso County officials prepare for this weekend’s Republican Party assembly.
Crane said that ability to share equipment and work with other counties is another perk of the widely used system.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams chose the Dominion system as the state’s standard after a three-year process.
Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who served as clerk and recorder before Crane, said in a statement that the system is a good fit.
“We have great confidence in the competitive process used to test and evaluate their technology, and are excited to watch the Clerk and Recorder’s Office roll out this new system in time for the Primary and Presidential Elections,” she said.