The State Board of Elections on Friday approved modifications to a certified election system for use in North Carolina that improve the security and functionality of the system.
Election Systems & Software (ES&S) asked the State Board to approve an updated model of its voting system – known as the ExpressVote – after the Board approved an earlier version in August. A majority of the State Board agreed with agency staff that the changes incorporated in the newer model were not significant enough to require the full certification process.
Elections officials in about 20 N.C. counties want to use the ExpressVote as accessible devices for voters with disabilities, for early voting or for all voters. The system is federally certified and used in many other U.S. states.
“Upgrades to voting systems are routine in the elections process,” said State Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell. “The changes to the ES&S system make it more user-friendly and more secure.”
Updates in the EVS 188.8.131.52 model certified Friday include:
- Moving an internal component to improve the manufacturing process
- Addressing end-of-life components, such as updating the touch screen
- Adding a cover that will protect USB drives used with the system
- Adding an external area that will improve adhesion of security seals
- Increasing the length of the cord for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) voting device to make it easier to use
- Increasing the character limit for candidate names to 255 characters
- Updating the anti-virus software to improve security
State Board Chairman Damon Circosta also urged agency staff to modify the state’s certification program to address issues identified as the Board considered the certifications of three vendors’ systems this year. Three systems approved in August were the first that went through the voting systems certification process adopted in 2017.
The Board also limited the length of maintenance contracts between election systems vendors and county boards of elections to one year.
Voters using the ExpressVote system make their selections on a touch-screen machine. After all selections are made, the system prints a paper record of the voter’s choices for verification before the voter inserts the paper into a tabulating device. The approved modification does not include the ability to tabulate votes on the ExpressVote machine.
The ExpressVote model certified in North Carolina – EVS 184.108.40.206 – also is certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission after testing by a certified laboratory. State Board staff recently conducted a mock election with the system.
EVS 220.127.116.11 also is approved for use in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia. No state has ever denied certification of this system. Different versions of the ExpressVote are certified in additional states.
In August, the State Board certified three new voting systems:
Clear Ballot: ClearVote 1.4
Elections Systems & Software (ES&S): EVS 18.104.22.168
Hart InterCivic: Verity Voting 2.2
Clear Ballot has also requested an administrative approval of an upgrade to its system. The State Board is expected to consider that request at a meeting on December 20.
“The modifications we approved today are perfectly in line with our obligation to the voters of North Carolina – to ensure they have the best possible voting equipment for all voters,” said Board Chairman Damon Circosta.
Full audio of the meeting is available here.
For more on election security in North Carolina, go here: ncsbe.gov/YourVoteCountsNC.