FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
April 19, 2005 Carmella Sabaugh 586-469-7939
Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh today announced she is digitally imaging voter signatures and sending them in digital format to local clerks for verification. Signatures are transmitted in digital format instead of sending local clerks thousands of pieces of paper. This is believed to be the first time this technology has been used in Macomb County, and possibly the state, to transmit registered voter signatures for verification. She is also doing it at no additional cost to taxpayers by using existing technology in her office.
“We have been doing electronic imaging for years in the register of deeds office with success, so it made sense to apply the same technology to absentee voter application forms,” said Sabaugh, who also started scanning campaign finance reports and posting them on the Internet last summer. “It’s the same thing we’re now doing with all of the campaign finance disclosure forms filed with my office.”
When a voter submits an absentee voter application form, the clerk must verify that the signature matches the one on the voter’s registration card. It got harder this year because the Clinton and Macomb Township clerks are not participating in the May 3 election. Some voters for the first time must submit absentee ballot applications to the county clerk instead of their local clerk. The logistical problem was how to transfer thousands of pieces of paper (one for each absentee voter) from the county clerk to the Clinton and Macomb Township clerks, to verify the signatures, and back again.
Sabaugh solved this problem by using high-speed scanners to scan the absentee voter application forms she receives containing a voter’s signature and other identifying information. The image is then transferred to a CD-ROM and delivered or E-mailed to the Clinton or Macomb Township clerk to verify the signature. Once verified, Sabaugh’s office sends a ballot to the voter. Sabaugh is using technology her office and the local clerks already have.
“My hope is that the Clinton and Macomb Township clerks will take advantage of this technology, but they may still print out the paper copies from the electronic file if they want to do it the old-fashioned way,” said Sabaugh. “This use of technology should help keep election costs down for Clinton and Macomb Township school districts because there is no need to create paper unless a local clerk chooses to incur the cost on his or her own.”
This is not the only innovation Sabaugh has proposed for the May 3 election. She recently announced plans to enlist area high school students to work as election inspectors at every polling place under her control, giving them an opportunity to learn and earn. She plans to employ 72 students. This is believed to be the first time in Macomb County that such a large number of student election inspectors will work in an official capacity during an election.
Last year Sabaugh held a voter registration drive aimed at high school students and visited several county high schools.