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Arizona secretary of state looking to update state’s voter registration systems

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PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said Wednesday her office is looking to update the state’s voter registration systems, but it has little to do with last year’s hack.

“We’re updating, yes, and it’s not actually due to anything that happened last year,” she said. “It’s something that, by law, we’re required to go out to bid for this in 2017.”

Arizona was one of the first states to introduce online voter registration and, 15 years later, it’s time to upgrade from the VRAZ-II, an aging platform that reached its peak use in the late 1990s.

Reagan has issued a request for proposal for the development of the Access Voter Information Database. Bids should begin coming in during the next few weeks.

Though no information was stolen when a single computer was hacked prior to last year’s election, Reagan said the updated system must be more secure.

“We get thousands of hits a month on this system of people trying to get in that are up to no good,” she said.

“This is the time that we’re going to be changing all of our security protocols to make sure it’s even harder to get into that system.”

Updating the state’s voter registration systems isn’t as easy as switching out one system.

“People probably wouldn’t realize that there are three voter registration systems in this state,” Reagan said.

The two largest Arizona counties — Maricopa and Pima — have their own platforms, while the 13 other counties run off the third.

Reagan said the three-system setup works, but it could be easier.

“It’s like if one person has an iPhone and one person has a Windows phone and the other person has an Android, but yet they all need to run the same program at the same time,” she said. “Chances are, it’s not going to work as well than if everyone were just using the same platform.”

Reagan hoped the update is a good time to rework that system.

“We’re hoping going forward that the counties all consider banding together on one system, because it’s going to be a lot easier for the citizens to use,” she said.

The updated system should not only be a lot harder to hack, but it should streamline routine tasks, provide simplified and efficient daily processing of voter registrations while adding the ability to provide precinct-based and centralized polling places, real-time poll books and offer flexibility for growth and scalability.

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