NEW RICHMOND -- In light of the recent voting fiasco in Iowa, the New Richmond City Council received reassurance Monday night that the new Badger Book voter registration system has nothing to do with the either the casting or counting of ballots.

The special primary election to fill Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District seat scheduled for Feb. 18 will be the city’s first time employing the new Badger Book technology.

City staff and election officials met with Badger Book representatives in January to learn how to set up and test the workstations. A workstation includes a main terminal computer with a touch screen for electronic signature capture, a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard and printer.

The system will be used to check in voters, process absentee ballots and register voters on Election Day, replacing the paper voter registration forms and paper poll book.

Community Development Director Beth Thompson and Deputy Clerk Lori Brinkman walked council members through a brief explanation of how the new paperless system will work.

“If you come in and need to register, we can either scan your driver's license or manually type in your information. Then you are automatically checked in as a voter, the station will print your voter number. You will bring that number to a poll worker and receive your ballot. If you are already a registered voter, you’ll come in and state your name and address as you normally would for the poll worker. You’ll sign right on the touch screen. The poll worker will approve your signature and the machine will spit out your voter number. You’ll take that number to the next person and receive your ballot,” Brinkman explained.

Voters can expect to vote the same way they have for the past five years. Voters will still need to produce a valid photo ID.

Both Brinkman and Thompson stressed definitively that the new system is not linked to the internet.

Voters can expect to register at two stations located outside the council chamber in the lobby and electronically sign the poll book at two stations inside the chamber. Should the new system fail or shutdown for some reason, the city will have paper registration forms and a hard copy poll book on hand.

This is also the first election in which the city will transmit its results to the county clerk using a modem and secure virtual private network provided by the Wisconsin Elections Commission as part of a statewide security upgrade.

There will be a test of the election equipment 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, the Civic Center. The test is open to the public. A Badger Book workstation will also be available for people to take a closer look.

The city has posted a 2020 Election FAQ on its Facebook page at: facebook.com/CityofNewRichmond

Mayor Fred Horne presented Bob Mullen with a clock commemorating his 26 years of service to the City., Monday night, Feb. 10, 2020. Photo submitted
Mayor Fred Horne presented Bob Mullen with a clock commemorating his 26 years of service to the City., Monday night, Feb. 10, 2020. Photo submitted

The council recognized Bob Mullen for his 26 years of service as a Utility Commissioner. Mullen served the community in a variety of roles from planning and economic development to utilities. City Administrator MIke Darrow noted, “I personally will miss his enthusiasm, support of our staff, and compassion for those he served with as a part of our team.” Mayor Fred Horne presented Mullen with a clock commemorating his years of service to the City.

Other business

  • Council members approved a contract with Traffic Marking Services in the amount of $29,223.24 to execute the City’s 2020 Pavement Marking Plan.

  • Council members also approved audio visual technology upgrades at the Civic Center in the amount of $39,959.00. The upgrades apply to the Council chamber, ED Lab, east lobby and mobile A/V equipment.