Yamhill County will run its May election using Hart InterCivic’s Verity® Voting, after rejecting a competing system that did not work efficiently for the jurisdiction.
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“We used (the other company’s system) for our gubernatorial election, and I realized immediately that we did not want to use it for our upcoming presidential primary,” said County Clerk Brian Van Bergen, who re-opened negotiations with Hart, a former election partner with more than 100 years of experience providing election solutions.
“The issue boiled down to a failure to deliver integrated write-in resolutions. Our voters expect election results overnight, but the new system was not able to deliver. Announcing election results a week late was a significant public relations problem,” he said.
“With more than 500 precinct races, all allowing write-ins, adjudicating ballots in a timely way is crucial,” said Van Bergen. “The system we purchased could not deliver the fast, easy-to-understand results our voters had learned to expect with Hart’s legacy system.”
The County has nearly 69,000 registered voters and, like in all of Oregon, voters mark paper ballots delivered by mail. Hart InterCivic’s Verity offers best-in-industry central scanning solution that facilitates efficient, accurate and transparent handling for large volumes of by-mail ballots.
The County successfully renegotiated its election contracts and last week took delivery of equipment for Verity, the most modern, secure voting technology available. Van Bergen, who tested Verity in his office first-hand, is relieved. “We didn’t realize how awesome working with Hart systems could be until we didn’t have one.”
“Welcome back to the Hart family,” said Phillip Braithwaite, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic. “We are happy to once again offer our superior support to Yamhill County with Hart’s Verity solution. We look forward to a long partnership with the County.”
Van Bergen praised Hart’s attentive customer service and responsiveness, saying, “It warms the heart to call and reach someone who knows the answer to your question, or knows how to find out what you need. Hart believes in follow-through. We had a painful experience with the other company, waiting four or five days for a call back and then not getting a real answer. It was a pattern.”
“Hart’s customer service team, top to bottom, is simply superior,” he added.
Training for the May election will begin next week, and Van Bergen expects workers to “love the smoother, cleaner, easier to navigate” features of Verity. “We had an issue with the other system that did not easily show us which ballots had been adjudicated. We discovered that some ballots were checked and rechecked by the same staff over and over again. Verity lets users avoid that.”
Van Bergen is also looking forward to the trustworthiness of Verity, designed and manufactured in the U.S.
“The security features with Verity are astonishing,” he said. “It’s comforting to know that not only are we getting a better-working system, but one that is more secure than we ever thought possible.”
As a growing number of jurisdictions in the Northwest and throughout the country look at new voting systems, Van Bergen offers advice.
“I strongly recommend looking at the whole value proposition, considering your selection from start to finish. From the first phone call, through ballot design, to final adjudication. Having that value proposition may not mean the lowest initial price, but it is worth your time to check a few references before making a decision that you will regret for 10 years.”
“I’ve now worked with a startup and a 100-year-old company,” said Van Bergen, who has been County Clerk for six years. “Some consider it fun and exciting to work with a startup, but you don’t want elections to be fun and exciting. You want them to be accurate – safe, secure and dependable. We’ve made the right choice with Hart.”