The Virginia Department of Elections has awarded a $13.5 million contract to The Canton Group, which will build a voter registration system scheduled to go live in February 2025.
“As election technology and security requirements have increased, the need to replace our current voter registration system has become imperative. Due to the critical importance of this project, this procurement was subject to the state’s high risk requirements, including review by the Virginia Information Technology Agency and the Office of the Attorney General. There is broad support for replacing VERIS, and we were determined to obtain the best solution capable of serving the Commonwealth for years to come,” Commissioner Susan Beals said in a press release.
The new system will include improved candidate management, enhanced absentee voting features, streamlined registration workflows including same-day registration and pre-registration for minors, and increased election security capability. It will also support improved election night reporting and ranked-choice voting.
The Canton Group is a web systems and IT management provider for federal, local, and state government. Its proposal was one of three responses to the department’s 2021 Request for Proposal after the Virginia General Assembly allocated funds for the project. In addition to the anticipated build price, the Department of Elections can opt to buy additional hosting, maintenance, and support for $2.9 million per year. Now, the project enters a three-month planning period.
The announcement comes after a voter registration backlog linked to delayed transactions between the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Department of Elections. Additionally, 31,000 voters in some northern Virginia jurisdictions received incorrect voting location information, according to Herndon Patch.
After the backlog in voter information changes from the DMV was discovered, Beals blamed changed elections laws for straining the 15-year-old Virginia Election and Registration Information System (VERIS).
At the beginning of October, Beals said in a letter to State Senator Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), “In the past two years, Virginia has seen unprecedented changes to the way elections are conducted in Virginia. While these legislative changes increased access to the ballot and had a positive impact on voters, many of these bills required significant changes to our aging voter registration system. This year alone the system was amended to accommodate redistricting, Same Day Registration, the preregistration of 16-year-olds, as well as precinct level reporting. Any additional requirements to the system pose significant risk.”
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