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State Board Unanimously Certifies New Voting System

Raleigh, NC – The State Board of Elections on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a new voting system from Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) for use in North Carolina elections.

The EVS system now is one of several state-certified voting systems, which counties can choose from in determining the best system of casting and counting ballots for their voters.

[Full video of Thursday’s State Board meeting and meeting documents are available on the meeting website.]

The new system includes an upgrade to the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, increased memory capacity, the new DS300 polling place scanner/tabulator, the new DS950 high-speed scanner/tabulator, and new reporting and ballot design modules, among other features.

“The State Board’s unanimous decision to certify this voting system gives county boards of elections and boards of commissioners another option when deciding which system best serves their voters,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “This system has been through rigorous testing as part of federal and state certifications, and it is certified, used, and audited in other states. Combined with many other safeguards in our elections process, election officials are confident that this system will ensure accurate, secure elections for our voters.”

Voters using this system will cast paper ballots in one of two ways:

  • Use a pen to mark selections on a paper ballot, check their selections, and insert their ballot into a tabulator (i.e., ballot scanner) at their voting site.
  • Make selections using a touch-screen ballot-marking device, called the ExpressVote, which prints out a completed paper ballot that the voter double-checks and inserts into a tabulator.

Voters’ selections are recorded on a memory card in the tabulator for later counting.

Almost all N.C. voters use paper ballots, providing a paper trail of all votes cast that can be audited or recounted by elections officials. (Note: Military and overseas voters, as well as visually impaired voters, may request, access, and return an absentee ballot using an online portal maintained by the State Board.) 

The State Board determined Thursday that EVS meets all criteria defined in North Carolina’s Elections Systems Certification Program (PDF). The system also meets federal standards established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). As part of the certification process, Pro Verification & Validation (Pro V&V), an independent test lab accredited by the EAC to examine voting systems, conducted a procedural and technical evaluation of EVS and found that it meets the requirements for voting systems in North Carolina. [Read the Pro V&V Test Report for EVS Voting System]

ES&S will be notified of the certification of the system, and the following steps must be taken before the system can be used in North Carolina:

  • Upon securing any contracts, ES&S must post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects in the voting system. The State Board has set this amount as $17.02 million, or the cost of a new statewide election. 
  • ES&S must place in an escrow account the source code for software of the system relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system. 
  • Each county board of elections interested in the new system must witness a demonstration of the system and at least one other system. 
  • Each county board interested in the new system must test the system in at least one precinct in a live election or through simulated election procedures established by the State Board. 
  • The county board must recommend procurement of the new system to the board of county commissioners. The county commissioners must sign off on the purchase of the voting system. 

For more information on voting systems used in North Carolina, see Voting Equipment

For more information on election security, see Election Security.

For a quick overview of election security in NC, see 10 Facts About Election Security in North Carolina