voting

UPDATE:

Local officials say they're more optimistic that new voter registration software will be ready by March 11.

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced the statewide software rollout in 2018. Florida-based company Tenex is making the system on a $4 million contract.

Election officials from several local counties had expressed concerns that the software wouldn't be functional by March 11.

But Bannock County Clerk Jason Dixon says a Thursday meeting in Boise between county clerks from around the state and the Secretary of State's Office was "very encouraging."

Dixon says a software update fixing 35 system issues should be rolled out in the next few days, and training for counties across the state on the new software begins next week.

Dixon says that while the Secretary of State’s Office hasn’t met benchmarks in the past, he has “faith and hope” that this time will be different.

He added that the Secretary of State’s Office has “good intentions.”

Power County Clerk Sharee Sprague tells KPVI the Secretary of State's Office also assured that if the software's not ready, a back-up plan will be put in place. That could mean using the old software if the new Tenex system isn’t ready by March 11.

The new software only affects voter registration and result reporting, not the actual vote count.

Sprague added that regardless of the readiness of the software, the focus of clerks around the state is on the integrity of the election.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Local officials are raising concerns about new voter registration software being implemented across Idaho.

In 2018, Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Florida-based company Tenex Software Solutions would create the new system on a $4 million contract.

The software will be used to keep track of every registered voter's information during elections, and report official election results to the Secretary of State's Office.

Bannock County Elections Administrator Julie Hancock says the new system “lacks functionality” and describes communication from the Secretary of State's office as poor.

Hancock adds nobody in the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office has significant experience working in an elections office.

Bannock is one of twelve counties that will test the new software in conjunction with the old software during the Idaho Presidential Primary, March 10.

Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck says communication has “improved in terms of frequency” and that there’s lots of “emailing back and forth”.

Originally, the software was slated for roll-out by the primary election.

Denney delayed the launch after clerks came to a conference in Boise.

According to Bannock County Clerk Jason Dixon and Power County Clerk Sharee Sprague, at the conference, clerks from 38 of Idaho’s 44 counties expressed significant concerns about the software.

Houck says they are now on track to launch March 11.

"Talking with Chad Houck, he might say that it will be ready...that's the same old song and dance we've heard for a year, and not one bench mark has been met yet. And so I have very little confidence it'll be ready,” says Dixon. “Some of the other clerks that I've talked to from across the state right now, every single one of them that I've talked to, has said 'I have no confidence that it'll be ready, even by May.’"

Bonneville County Elections Supervisor Brenda Prudent says right now, the software doesn’t comply with Idaho laws, and she’s also had issues with simple processes like absentee ballots and adding a person into the voter registration system.

But, she did say communication with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is “90% better.”

 

Sprague says her office is preparing “old school" backup measures, to make sure the correct election results are sent to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office on March 11.

“I think it’s typical whenever you are launching a new software program, you’re going go to have a lot of these types of things happen,” says Sprague.

“The thing that makes me nervous is that I feel like they need to slow down the implementation timeline so that we can ensure that we can work through all of these things before we have a product that’s launched, and that’s the only thing we have to rely on.”

Sprague says she hopes the launch of the new software will be delayed until June, after the May election.

Houck told KPVI while some counties are having significant problems with the software, others are doing fine, and these bugs are a normal part of the process. He also says county officials will be further trained on the software in late February.

County clerks from around the state will meet with the Secretary of State’s Office Thursday to discuss the issue further.

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