Franklin County could be moving on to a new and improved voting tabulation system if commissioners approve the purchase.
And the decision is scheduled to come at Wednesday’s commission meeting. It would be great if the county’s elections office could get the go-ahead early enough to make the switch in time for the Aug. 1 primary election.
It appears there really is no downside to the $163,500 upgrade. The present system is so outdated that it costs less to replace than to maintain it.
Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton called the switch a no-brainer.
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The county bought its current system in 2005, which at the time was considered state of the art. But now it’s ancient history in terms of technology.
It runs on Windows XP, but Microsoft no longer supports the program and it costs the county $50,000 a year to keep it going.
The new system eyed by county election officials will cost $23,000 annually to maintain, with the first year included in the purchase price.
We agree with Beaton that when maintaining an operating system can pay for a replacement, it’s time to say good-bye to the old machinery.
Voters will have to get used to a different ballot, but it shouldn’t be a struggle. The present system requires people to connect arrows on their ballots, while the new format will ask voters to fill in a bubble.
That should be an easy adjustment.
It is often easy to get comfortable with the familiar way of doing things, but it is important to look around once in a while and see how a change might be for the better.
Voting by mail, for example, has taken over the old polling booths and punch card system statewide.
While some people miss the nostalgia of physically going to the neighborhood school to cast a ballot, the vast majority prefer the convenience of voting from home.
Franklin County elections officials have made a good call in looking for a better and cheaper way to count ballots. Now they just need the green light from the county commissioners to make it happen.
Tri-Citians stepped up
On another note, we would like to acknowledge the generous spirit of our community. A week ago the Herald wrote a story about the need for some short-term housing for medical students from Washington State University.
WSU officials were looking for Tri-Citians to open their homes to 10 of 15 students who still needed a place to stay for the six weeks they will be at the Richland campus.
During the weeks they are staying in the Tri-Cities, the host is expected to connect them with people living in the area, coordinate activities and attend a weekly dinner.
The response came quickly. Within a day of the story, enough people contacted WSU that the university was able to find homes for all the visiting students.
We would just like to thank everyone who volunteered their homes and their time to make these students feel welcome.
The response was quick and overwhelming, indicative that the Tri-Cities really is a great place to live.