Clinton Township voters may want to make sure they look presentable when dropping off their mail-in ballots at ballot drop-off sites.
Township officials recently invested $22,000 in increased technology and security by outfitting each box with four surveillance cameras, including one inside the box’s delivery door. Two of the boxes contain solar-powered cameras, backed by federal election security money.
Kim Meltzer, the township clerk, said ring cameras were once used at ballot boxes, but the new cameras offer better visuals and sharper quality.
“People are demanding greater integrity in the electoral process,” she said. “For the new cameras, you can capture the license plates of each vehicle. You can see the cars much better. It’s a great tool to get the voice of the people heard.
To alert voters that they are being photographed, each ballot box contains a cheeky message telling them “smile you are on camera” mounted on a sign.
The cameras are installed by RSI Audio Video Security at Armada, which originally built the system for an employee theft carnival and later developed one for the ballot box. The company’s customers include Jet’s Pizza and Detroit’s Eastern Market.
Owner Bob Jenkins said he was interested in ballot box camera technology from Goodland and Washington townships.
“Meltzer’s big thing was transparency in the electoral process. If she has questions about who is casting ballots, you have a picture of the vehicle and we can take the license plate,” Jenkins said.
Township officials will not know who is voting for whom, but video evidence of tampering, theft or overstuffing the drop box would be turned over to police.
Business is booming for RSI – the company has customers booked nine weeks in advance, he added.
Data is stored both in the cloud and on a local hard drive. And the data can also be viewed on mobile phones.
According to Meltzer, the township used federal election security grants to pay for the cameras.
Each community in Michigan can access reimbursement dollars in the amount of $1,500 per constituency. The township has 42 ridings, which equates to $62,000 in reimbursement. The total cost of the cameras was $22,000, leaving Clinton Township available for additional security purchases.