Flathead County has been awarded $44,115 through the 2018 Help America Vote Act’s (HAVA) Election Security Grants to improve election security and accessibility for the 2022 election cycle.
The funding will help Flathead County buy the ExpressVote voting system, which will make it easier for election judges to manage ballots and will benefit voters with upgraded devices.
With the ExpressVote system, voters will use a touchscreen or adaptive devices to mark their vote selections and receive a paper ballot after completion, according to Flathead County Election Administrator Debbie Pierson. The system also provides a mechanism for individuals who need additional assistance to mark and cast their ballot at a polling location, Pierson said.
“Offering accessibility for our voters with disabilities is a priority for all election administrators,” Pierson said.
The software includes security systems with lockable doors, tamper-evident seals and access codes that cannot be bypassed or deactivated. Safeguards also alert election officials of unauthorized access.
ExpressVote replaces AutoMark, which was purchased in 2006 with federal HAVA funds. AutoMark will be used for the 2020 election cycle.
“The upgrade will replace aging equipment and offer a smaller, lighter-weight option that is easy to transport and set up,” Pierson said.
She says the AutoMark weighs 65 pounds, making it difficult for election workers to lift.
The HAVA Grant awarded a total of $750,000 in subgrants to all Montana counties, giving Missoula County the most with $45,879 and Flathead County close behind with $44,115.
Each county is required to match half of the HAVA grant’s funds, and Flathead County’s will budget the dollars through the Flathead Capital Improvement Project (CIP) process.