Licking County has to replace its voter registration system by the end of the year but the change isn't expected to affect the presidential election in November.

Licking County has to replace its voter registration system by the end of the year but the change isn't expected to affect the presidential election in November.

"This has nothing to do with our voting system," said Sue Penick, new director of the Licking County Board of Elections. "The voter registration system is our nuts and bolts. But it has nothing to do with how we vote or where people vote, so it will not affect November at all."

The county has to replace the system because Sequoia Voting Systems no longer will support the system the county currently uses, Penick said.

"We're very pleased with the system," she said. "It wasn't our choice to change."

The county transferred all data -- on voters, addresses, precincts, districts and petitions -- to the Sequoia system in 2005, per state mandates. Last week, Licking County commissioners opened three bids for a new voter registration system. They are Triad GSI of Xenia, $94,800 for setup and a $23,535 yearly fee for maintenance; Scytl Secure Elections of Virginia, $250,000 and $15,000 a year for maintenance for five years; and Elections Systems and Software Inc. of Nebraska, $150,000 for setup with a total bid for maintenance and membership of $275,489.

The county is paying Sequoia $40,000 this year to support the existing system.

Penick said she needs to review all bids and make a recommendation to the Licking County Board of Elections. It will be up to the board to determine which bid to accept. Penick said the process needs to occur quickly, though, because "we need to start the conversion as soon as possible."

She said workers could begin entering data into a new system as soon as it's in place, but no data will be removed from the old system until after the November election.

"We'll stay on this system (Sequoia) until we are through November," she said.

When asked if the cost is in her budget, Penick said the county commissioners probably would have to allocate some funding to help.

She said several variables have to be considered as part of the contract, including the compatibility of the county's hardware with new software.

"We're considering this software cost and hardware costs, too," she said. "We're not sure if our hardware will suffice."

The Franklin County Board of Elections is the only other Ohio agency using the Sequoia system. Penick said Triad, the county's lowest bidder, handles voter registration systems in 53 of Ohio's 88 counties.

"It's not something that can't be done. It's not something we won't do," she said of the change. "But the timing is not perfect."

lwince@thisweeknews.com