Officials prep new Bonneville voting system

Today’s primary election is the first real test of Bonneville County’s new voting system, which replaced the decades-old, punch-card voting system it previously used.

Voters have the option of using either a paper fill-in-the-bubble ballot or a screen-based electronic voting system, said Elections Supervisor Penny Manning.

Manning said county elections officials have been running several tests of the system, including conducting a mock election.

“We’re piecing together all the bits of knowledge we have gotten over the last few months, and I think it will work pretty smoothly,” she said.

The vendor of the new system is Hart InterCivic, an Austin, Texas-based election system provider. The total price tag was around $700,000, but most of those costs were covered by state funds and federal grants, Manning said.

Bonneville County Commission Chairman Roger Christensen said county officials decided to replace the system because equipment and software for the old system stopped being updated.

“We were one of the last counties in the nation using the old punch-card ballots,” he said.

The new electronic system features four layers of redundancy to ensure no votes are lost, Manning said. Votes will be stored in the memory banks of two computers, on a removable memory card and on a paper ballot produced by the voting machines.

In related news, the polling place that had been located in the Bonneville County Courthouse has been moved to the county’s new election office at 825 Shoup Ave. The move allows voters who would have voted at the courthouse to avoid being subjected to courthouse security measures, Manning said.

Unaffiliated voters wishing to vote in the Republican primary will still have the option of affiliating at the polls this year.