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City May Use Electronic Voting Machine at this Year’s City Election

Electronic Voting Machine

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the City council will consider a proposal to rent electronic voting machines at the November 3rd City elections.

The proposal will be about about one-time rental of equipment, sale of services and license of software, for electronic voting machines from the Election Systems & Software, LLC of Omaha,Nebraska.

The rental fee will be of an amount not to exceed $15,000.

Staff thinks that for the first time in many years, every district and the Mayoral race will be contested. Because of the number of names that will appear on the ballot, and the highly likely increase in voter turnout due to the number of candidates, the Board of Election Supervisors has recommended that we use electronic voting machines for this election.

The paper ballot/hand count method that has been used in previous elections is time- consuming and subject to human error on election night, at the end of a long day at the polls. Each name that appears on the ballot increases the time that it takes to count the votes. The Board of Elections has not been faced with this situation in many years, thus their request to use electronic machines for this election.

The system that we will use involves a paper ballot that is scanned into an optical reader. This is the same company that the state of Maryland will use for the 2016 elections. The Board of Election Supervisors will receive training on the equipment prior to the election, and a technician from ES&S will be available on Election Day for any needed support.

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2 Comments to “City May Use Electronic Voting Machine at this Year’s City Election”

  1. By Matthew Byrd, September 20, 2015 @ 10:50 pm

    Hello Fazlul, I apologize for these questions, but the City has not yet published the Council Packet for this week. What model of the ES&S system is the Board of Election supervisors proposing to use? Will there only be one machine at City Hall, or a separate machine at each polling station? Will the counting machines be programmed to accommodate 4 different ballot-types, or is the same ballot being used in all 4 districts? Do these machines make photocopies of each ballot, in order to maintain an electronic record that could be published on the City’s website, allowing for total transparency of the election results? Will the public be able to view a sample of their ballot prior to the election? I am a bit skeptical of a new system being introduced only 45 days prior to the election, though I do understand the reasoning behind it.

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, September 29, 2015 @ 11:29 pm

    Matt, I am just seeing your message now. My apologies. Here is the response I sent to our list serve earlier. Thanks to Jack Robson from our Board of Directors for providing this information:

    The equipment is the ES&S DS200 Precinct Scanner and Tabulator. Watch a demo video here:
    http://www.essvote.com/products/13/1/Digital-Scan-Tabulators/ds200/

    There will be 8 machines in total, two per district — four at Davis Hall, four at City Hall

    There will be training for the Board of Election Supervisors (BOES) after the equipment arrives on site, which is expected October 15. In order to keep costs down only a limited number of the election judges will receive machine training prior to election day. Their training will be less extensive than that received by the BOES.Those judges will be assigned to assist voters who need help with the machines.

    There will also be a technician available on Election Day.

    Staff are working on the ballot design now with the goal to keep them as close to the old ballots as possible. Initial talks with the vendor indicate the paper size will be larger (8 1/2 x 11), but the appearance will similar. We are not under contract with the vendor but I have asked them to prepare a sample ballot I can show you this evening. No promise as of now as to whether they can comply.

    When the paper ballots are scanned, they drop into a secure bin, where they are stored. When the polls close, there will be a tabulation and electronic printout of the votes cast from each machine. The voted ballots would be available in the event that a hand count is needed for some reason. The machines have two independent electronic storage systems that cross-check each other. Either can produce a record of every machine operation.

    For a detailed report prepared as part of the State’s procurement process see:
    http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting_system/documents/Closed_Certification%20Testing%20Report%20for%20ES&S%20EVS_FINAL.pdf

    The ESS200 scanners are a stand-alone component of the State system.