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Database to screen voters better

Island County will soon switch to a voter registration database that will allow for a statewide system that will catch dead people and others who cannot legally vote.

On Wednesday, the Island County Auditor’s office received permission to go ahead and purchase a system from VoTec, a San Diego, Calif., based company that manages elections databases in 14 states.

“This will allow us to be compatible with a statewide system and to be able to be up to date,” Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said.

Once a statewide voter database is established, it will eliminate problems like when five convicted felons were discovered to have voted in the November elections in Island County. Unless reinstated, convicted felons are stripped of their voting rights.

Two other felons attempted to vote in November, but those were discovered by the Island County Canvassing Board at the time.

The VoTec system establishes a database of all registered voters, allows elections officials to print poll books which are used to verify identities, and it manages the status of voters’ registrations.

The estimated cost is approximately $177,000, including five years of annual maintenance. Island County will only have to pay $27,600 and the Washington Secretary of State will pick up the remainder of the tab.

The $136,492 from the state comes from the federal Help America Vote Act, which mandates several steps states must take to make voting easier and smoother.

Sinclair said that the current system is sufficient, however, the upgrade is welcome.

“The old database was constructed in such a way that the Secretary of State’s office couldn’t synch up,” she said.

The new database will be compatible with the state’s system.

The next step for the county is to purchase an optical-scan ballot system. This will establish the use of fill-in-the-bubble style ballots, similar to a standardized test. Sinclair said she expects to begin the process of finding a vendor by the end of the month.

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