MANSFIELD -- A new and improved Richland County Board of Elections website should go live in the next couple of weeks.
Elections Director Matt Finfgeld and Deputy Director Jane Zimmerman met with county commissioners on Thursday to provide an update on an $89,400 project approved by commissioners in July.
"Our goal is to have the website live by the end of (2021)," Finfgeld said during a meeting that also included Jose Trejo, an elections specialist for Triad Governmental Systems, the Xenia-based company handling the work.
The website upgrades the county's voter registration system, changing vendors for the first time since 2004.
The change will benefit county residents and candidates through increased and easier access to constantly updated information, according to local elections officials.
It would also benefit local board of elections workers, according to Finfgeld and Zimmerman, who said this summer the new registration system would not impact the voter tabulation software currently being used.
Residents and candidates can go online to locate information that previously would have required assistance from board of elections workers.
Trejo told commissioners this summer that Triad guarantees its client counties remain compliant with frequent changes in state laws and voter registration requirements, a service that is part of an annual $22,650 maintenance agreement.
He said his staff and local boards of elections officials have been working to clean up voter registration "discrepancies" between the Ohio Secretary of State's office and the local board.
Trejo said that's not unusual in his experience.
"They are all like this. We know how to check what to begin with because we have seen it before," he said, explaining the county's previous vendor didn't have the ability to do state-specific changes.
"They had to worry about all 50 states," he said. "When Ohio changes, we change with it."
The new software provides many more tools to residents, voters and candidates, according to Trejo, who again demonstrated some of the information on other county board of elections websites only available now by calling or writing the local board.
For example, voters can complete and print out an absentee ballot application, which can then be mailed into the elections board. Local database searches of registered voters, down to the precinct and individual voter level, will also be available.
"We are not making to make (the website) public until (the local elections board) is comfortable everything is good and accurate," Trejo said, adding that more will be added to the website as needed and staff is trained.
For example, he said, finance campaign information will not not be there when the site goes live "because it's not needed yet" with the May primary still being several months away.