Before Shelby County voters get new voting machines, the elections administrator wants a new voter registration system to begin a badly needed upgrade of election technology. “Mostly, we really need a system that I don’t fear is going to crash and burn,” administrator Linda Phillips said. She and the five election commissioners are working on a request for proposals and intend to have the new voter registration system installed and working by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The election commission’s budget for the current fiscal year has $1 million available for such a system. “I really do not know,” she said of the exact cost of a new system. “The model in registration systems is moving more toward software than service. So a relatively low upfront price, but you pay an annual maintenance license fee. … I would expect it to be less than $2 million without question.
“It would be more efficient,” Phillips said. “It would be more robust. The system we are using is 20 years old and it was never designed to have 120 concurrent users as we often will in an election.”
A new system with “some bells and whistles” could help other administrative functions beyond voter registration, such as the election commission’s help desk module on election day, which runs on a separate system.
“Help desk involves voter problems,” she said. “It involves poll worker problems. It involves machine problems. I’d like a system that we have our machine inventory in. … What more logical place to track complaints and issues on help desk than in that system.”