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City of Lansing to use state's first mail ballot tracking software

Cities of Walker and Lansing early adapters of program aimed at boosting vote-by-mail integrity
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Posted at 10:28 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 10:28:03-04

LANSING, Mich. — Grand Rapids-based mail service provider Kent Communications, Inc. [kentcommunications.com]. (KCI) is the first company in Michigan to work with local election officials to add a critical layer of integrity and accountability to the vote-by-mail process. The product, TrackMIBallot [trackmiballot.com], uses a service from the United States Postal Service, Informed Visibility®, to track each piece of ballot mail as it travels through the postal system. TrackMIBallot will track ballots being mailed to the voter and the ballot coming back into the election office. So far, four municipalities have signed on to use TrackMIBallot in upcoming elections: City of Walker, City of Lansing, and the suburban Grand Rapids townships Grand Rapids Township and Cannon Township.

Using this new service, voting officials will be able to see when ballots are being delivered to voters, and to look up inquiries when a voter is wondering where their ballot is. The system is even capable of giving each voter their own secure web link where they can track their own ballot. When the ballot is placed back into the mail by the voter, TrackMIBallot will identify and track that ballot as it enters the postal mail stream, so the voter can be sure that the Postal Service has the ballot and is delivering it. The TrackMIBallot system can also let officials know that a ballot was put in the mail before the mailing deadline, and conform that each ballot traveled through the Postal Service.

“TrackMIBallot is designed to help Michigan’s Clerks run the safest, most transparent absent voter election in history,” said TrackMIBallot founder and president of KCI, Brian Quist. “TrackMIBallot allows election officials to track every piece of mail from the voter and back again with a real-time UPS/FedEx-style tracking system. We are excited to be the first to market with this product that will allow a new level of transparency for voters and election officials.”

Currently the product is available in two tiers: TrackMIBallot and TrackMIBallot Premium. The Premium offering provides full-service, round-trip mail pickup, sorting and delivery at the discounted nonprofit rate and will be offered to the west and central Michigan counties of Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, Ingham, Ionia, Newaygo, Allegan, Berry, Van Buren, Berrien, Cass, St Joseph and Kalamazoo.

With KCI staff and technology providing the service, election officials will have confidence knowing that Michigan-based KCI has years of experience and accolades providing mail sorting, tax bill, water bill and assessment notice printing for over 500 Assessors and Treasurers across the state.

The City of Walker was one of the first municipalities to sign on with TrackMIBallot, with the transparency factor being a selling point.

“As City Clerk for the City of Walker in Kent County Michigan, I strive to be on the forefront of technology and I am excited to assist KCI in rolling out TrackMIBallot. This tool will be a great benefit to voters by giving them the opportunity to track their ballot to its destination,” said City of Walker clerk Sarah Bydalek.

The City of Lansing has already benefited from the product, according to Chris Swope, City of Lansing’s clerk.

“This is a fabulous tool to help us improve the voting process. I have already used it to track down several post office issues and help get ballots in the voters’ hands. I can see this quickly becoming a “must-have” for every community,” said Swope.

“Already this year, Michigan Clerks have issued more than three times the number of absentee ballots for the primary election than they did at this same time four years ago,” adds Quist. “Without a concrete tracking system, this volume of mail-in votes will be incredibly difficult to manage. We believe TrackMIBallot is a safe, affordable option for election officials to use to ensure they are offering the most transparent absent voter election possible.”

Although the product is aimed at election officials, citizens can also request that their municipality use a vote-by-mail tracking service by contacting their local clerk. More information on the product is available at www.trackmiballot.com [trackmiballot.com].

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