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 PONTIAC, Mich., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Oakland County Board of Commissioners is expected to take a vote today on a controversial plan to finance $2 million worth of voting machines which optically scan ballots. The full Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today in the Board of Commissioners Auditorium in Pontiac.
 Oakland County Clerk Lynn Allen has recommended that the county purchase equipment manufactured by Business Records Corporation (BRC) of Chicago. This equipment -- Optech III-P Eagle -- would then be leased to local municipal governments over six years.
 Another vendor, Doubleday Bros. & Co., Kalamazoo, Mich., the exclusive representative of the Accu-Vote Election System-2000, is not included in the Oakland County plan.
 However, some local clerks question the $2 million proposal, claiming that the Oakland County Clerk's office has not objectively evaluated all optical-scan equipment on the market. They assert that the county clerk's plan has unilaterally bypassed the Oakland County Purchasing Division, which traditionally provides an unbiased review of competitive proposals and technology.
 "There is absolutely no question that Accu-Vote is the far superior system," said Wilma Cotton, Bloomfield Township clerk.
 According to Doubleday officials, the Optech III-P Eagle equipment also requires the purchase of BRC's preprinted ballot shells which are protected by a patent. Therefore, in order to use these shells, they must be purchased from BRC, or royalties must be paid by the printer to BRC.
 Doubleday claims that the ballot shells represent a "hidden" cost to the users of Optech. Depending upon the number of columns used on a ballot, the additional cost of printing the shells is 8 to 12 cents per ballot. In the more populous areas of Oakland County where there are numerous precincts, the impact of this additional expense could be significant.
 Doubleday officials said that questions have arisen about the choice of an out-of-state firm printing the BRC shells. When a representative of the company recently contacted the Ottawa, Ill., printing company used by BRC, the receptionist informed the caller that the printing company is a non-union shop.
 According to Doubleday officials, when the Oakland County Democratic Party recently addressed the question about Optech and its alleged non-union printers in a memorandum to local clerks, the Oakland County clerk responded that Optech (through BRC) and Accu-Vote (through Doubleday) are union firms.
 "If all operations from preparation to finished work have not been conducted by a union printer, then it is not a union product," said Lorraine McClure, executive vice president of Graphic Communications International Union Detroit-Toledo-Lansing Local 289.
 "A lot of places say they are union but don't have the Allied label on their work," said McClure. "Every aspect of the operations must be unionized, or it is not recognized by us as a union product. And, if they are saying that they are a union printer when they are not, or are using a union label illegally, they are in violation of the label license."
 "I have been asking again and again for a fair, side-by-side demonstration of the two optical-scan voting systems," said Bloomfield Township Clerk Cotton. "Many of us (clerks) have attended informational meetings at the county for many months, and the information has been terribly one-sided. It is my belief that this matter should be sent to the Oakland County Purchasing Division for a fair review of the technology."
 Among the comparisons between the optical-scan systems, local clerks claim:
 -- The Doubleday Accu-Vote system is easier to program and use. No additional hardware is required to program or code for Accu-Vote. BRC's Optech requires a "prom" pack receiving station and an ultraviolet chip-erasing unit.
 "In order to erase the microchips after use," said Cotton, "someone from my office would have to remove several screws from the chip-erasing units' containers and then place the chips in another unit to 'cook' (erase) them. In Bloomfield Township, we have 33 precincts, so that means that someone has to open up 33 containers and go through this cumbersome process after every use. I can't believe that the county would provide this as a free service!"
 Doubleday officials said that BRC claims that the oven where the chips are placed for erasure is not needed now. However, the price quote prepared by BRC for the city of Pontiac contained the oven, and West Bloomfield Township used the oven to program its equipment last year.
 Doubleday officials also said that Optech still requires a prom receiving station. Each machine must be opened from a locked rear door in order to remove the prom. This would require an election worker to pick up and manipulate the 47-pound Optech system. Accu-Vote, on the other hand, weighs only 13.5 pounds, and the memory card (program) does not have to be removed to load or program the system.
 Optical scan technology has been used in election systems for about 20 years. College entrance exams, standardized tests and some state lotteries use the light-sensor optical-scan technology.
 -0- 11/18/93
 /CONTACT: Richard R. Goss, vice president - printing & elections of Doubleday Bros. & Co., 616-381-1040/

CO: Doubleday Bros. & Co.; Business Records Corporation ST: Michigan IN: SU:

JG-GK -- NY008 -- 5830 11/18/93 07:31 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1993

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