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Voting Equipment and Tabulation System Acquisition Process


Overview

Cuyahoga County currently employs a voting equipment and tabulation system that uses a combination of electronic and paper technology. Ballots are marked by voters and then scanned to have the votes tabulated. The use of physical paper ballots means that our elections are auditable, which provides an additional measure of security that is visible, reliable, and preferred by our voters. Our primary goal is always to provide accurate and verifiable election results. 

Every 10-15 years, voting equipment needs to be replaced to keep up-to-date with technological advancements. Cuyahoga County’s current voting equipment, last purchased in 2009, is nearing the end of its recommended life cycle and is due to be replaced. As a result, in 2017 the Board of Elections began the years long process to procure new voting equipment. While this process is still ongoing, the Board of Elections hopes to fully implement the new voting equipment and tabulation system prior to the 2023 primary election.


The Voting Equipment Acquisition Process:

A. Helpful Links
B. Current Voting Equipment
C. New Voting Equipment Funding
D. Available Certified Voting Systems
E. Vendor Demonstration Day for Northeast Ohio Counties
F. Initial Vendor Survey
G. Individual Vendor Demonstrations for Cuyahoga County
H. Additional Survey Responses from each Vendor
I. Individual Election Set-Up Vendor Demonstrations
J. ADA and In-Person Voting Equipment Demonstration
K. Virtual Security Summit
L. Feedback from Current Customers
M. Election Demonstration
N. Final Staff Recommendation to the Board of Elections
O. Procurement and Implementation
P. New Voting System Debut

 

Election Equipment Certification

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Ohio Secretary of State Election Information

Ohio Secretary of State County Voting Equipment

Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners’ Certification Standards


Related News Articles

Cleveland.com “Ohio Lawmakers OK $114.5 million for New Voting Machines”


B. Current Voting Equipment

 

Cuyahoga County’s current voting equipment and tabulation system was purchased from Election Systems and Software (ES&S) in 2009. For over 10 years, the equipment has been carefully maintained and software upgrades have been kept up-to-date to better provide a secure and efficient voting experience from start to finish. Our current system utilizes optical scanners, high-speed digital scanners, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) voting units, and election management system software, all purchased from ES&S.

 

 DS200 Optical Scanners are used at polling locations on Election Day to scan paper ballots. Cuyahoga County currently owns 1,200 DS200 scanners.

 

AutoMARK ADA Voting Units are used at polling locations on Election Day to assist voters who cannot easily vote using a paper ballot. Cuyahoga County currently own 635 AutoMARK units.

 

DS850 High-speed Digital Scanners are used for scanning vote-by-mail and provisional ballots. Cuyahoga County currently owns five (5) DS850 scanners. 

 

 

Electionware Election Management System is used to create secure election databases, create and tabulate ballots, program voting equipment, and generate election reports.

 



Election Security

Our current voting equipment from ES&S is certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency charged with assisting states and counties in conducting secure and reliable elections, and by the State of Ohio in accordance with Section 3506.05 of the Ohio Revised Code and the certification standards adopted by the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. ES&S voting systems are also independently tested for integrity and security by federally accredited labs, such as the Idaho National Laboratory, a leading center for research and development in energy, national security, science, and technology.

The hardware and software of the voting system is protected from cyber and physical tampering through a variety of security measures, including the use of physical locks and tamper-resistant seals, routine equipment inspections, and the use of unique encryption keys to prevent manipulation of program and election data. Moreover, neither the ballot scanners nor the election management system itself are ever connected to the internet, ensuring that no hackers are able to access our systems remotely.

Click here to learn more about our vendor ES&S

Click here to learn more about the specific security measures of ES&S utilizes to ensure the security of their products

Click here to learn more about the U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Click here to learn to more about the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners’ Certification Standards

 

C. New Voting Equipment Funding

 

Ohio Senate Bill 135

In 2018, the Ohio legislature passed Ohio Senate Bill 135, which allocates funding to all 88 Ohio counties for the purchase of new voting systems. Counties will receive a base allocation determined by the Secretary of State, and an additional allocation based upon the number of registered voters in the county. Following this funding formula, Cuyahoga County will be receiving approximately $10.4 million. The Department of Administrative Services solicited pricing from tabulation vendors and released bid requirements based on input from the Secretary of State and the Voting Machine Acquisition Advisory Committee, a bipartisan committee of state and local officials created to advise and assist the Secretary of State during this process.

This is legislation represents an important opportunity for Cuyahoga County to consider the different voting systems currently certified by the state of Ohio and determine which option is best suited for our county given the unique obstacles Cuyahoga County faces including our significant size and diverse voting population. By offsetting a cost that would ordinarily be borne by the county budget alone, the funding provided by the Ohio legislature will enable the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to replace our outdated voting equipment, upgrade our election management systems, and improve overall voter experience.

Click here to learn more about Ohio Senate Bill 135

Click here to read the legislative text of Senate Bill 135

Click here to read the Ohio Legislative Service Commission's Analysis of Senate Bill 135

Click here to read the Cleveland.com article:“Ohio Lawmakers OK $114.5 million for New Voting Machines”

 


D. Available Certified Voting Systems

 

Cuyahoga County strives to be a national leader in election administration, and we are eager to take advantage of this opportunity to provide our voters with the most up-to-date and efficient voting system currently available. Our goal is to obtain the best in election software and security, to improve election management, and to enhance the voting experience with updated equipment. Before undertaking the implementation of a new voting system, the Board of Elections must first determine which vendor can best meet the needs of our county.

Currently there are five tabulation systems certified for use in the state of Ohio:

Clear Ballot: www.clearballot.com
Dominion Voting: www.dominionvoting.com
Election Systems and Software (ES&S): www.essvote.com
Hart InterCivic: www.hartintercivic.com
Unisyn Voting Solutions: www.unisynvoting.com


E. Vendor Demonstration Day for Northeast Ohio Counties

 

December 2017

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hosted an Election Equipment Vendor Demonstration on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. The Boards of Elections of multiple counties located throughout northeast Ohio were invited to participate. Each of the five participating vendors were allotted one hour to provide a brief presentation followed by a Q&A session.


F. Initial Vendor Survey

 

October 2018

Following the vendor demonstration day, we asked each vendor to complete an initial informational survey to aid in our review process. We received responses from three vendors: Clear Ballot, Election Systems and Software, and Hart InterCivic.

Click here to view the Initial Tabulation Equipment Survey sent to each vendor

Vendor Responses

Click here to view the initial survey response from Clear Ballot

Click here to view the initial survey response from ES&S

Click here to view the initial survey response from Hart 


G. Individual Vendor Demonstrations for Cuyahoga County

 

January 2019


The remaining three tabulation system vendors were invited to Cuyahoga County in January 2019 to demonstrate the functionality of their products. Demonstrations took place Tuesday, January 15th through Thursday, January 17th. Each vendor had one full day to present their tabulation system, both hardware and software. A link to the video of each vendor’s presentation is provided below.

The morning portion of the vendor’s demonstration was open to the public. This session covered an overview of the company, a security presentation, and a physical demonstration of the polling location ballot scanners and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) voting equipment to be used on Election Day. The afternoon portion focused on the software and election setup of the tabulation systems. This session was closed to the public to allow senior management staff to evaluate the systems and ask detailed and system-specific questions that pertain to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Demonstration Videos

Election Systems and Software (ES&S) | Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Click here to view the demonstration videos of ES&S

Hart InterCivic | Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Click here to view the demonstration videos of Hart 

Clear Ballot | Thursday, January, 17, 2019
Click here to view the demonstration videos of Clear Ballot 


H. Additional Survey Responses from each Vendor


April 2019

After the individual vendor demonstrations, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections staff had additional questions for the three vendors that participated: Clear Ballot, ES&S, and Hart InterCivic.  An “Additional Information Survey” was sent to each vendor; the survey consisted of 25 general questions and an additional set of vendor-specific questions to collect more detailed information about each system.

Vendor Responses

Click here to view the survey response from Clear Ballot

Click here to view the survey response from ES&S

Click here to view the survey response from Hart



I. Individual Election Set-Up Vendor Demonstrations

 

June 2019

The three tabulation system vendors were invited back to Cuyahoga County in June 2019 for a demonstration on election coding, election set-up & break down, and the unique features of each vendor’s scanner, ADA, and central count equipment. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections provided the parameters and all necessary data to create a mock gubernatorial primary election and the vendors were asked to work with our Information Systems Department to translate the data into the formats used by their election management system.


The mock election included a variety of election scenarios that may occur over the lifetime of the voting equipment, including multiple-candidate contests, multiple vote-for options in a single contest, write-in options, lengthy ballot issues, and instances of contests with no valid candidates. Each of the three vendor simulations included system competency testing for a variety of tasks like coding all necessary ballot styles; performing basic logic and accuracy testing of equipment; performing early voting & vote-by-mail scanning; and simulating election night through uploading media, adjudicating remake and write-in votes, generating reports, and creating web uploads of results.

Each vendor had approximately four days to present their equipment to Board of Election staff who were able to operate and practice using the voting equipment and tabulation system. Many operational questions and issues were addressed by these hands-on demonstrations.



J. ADA and In-Person Voting Equipment Demonstration

 

January 2020

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hosted an ADA and In-Person Voting Equipment Demonstration in January 2020 to exhibit and evaluate of the user interface of the physical voting equipment available from each of the 3 vendors. Interested stakeholders had the opportunity to interact with the physical voting equipment in person, ask equipment vendors and Board of Elections staff questions, and provide feedback to the County.

The event was set up as an open house and guests were able to vote sample ballots in a mock election that simulated the in-person voting process. In particular, the event focused on the functionality of the ADA accessible voting machines and attendees included stakeholders and advocates from the persons with disabilities community. Approximately 70 people attended the open house, representing more than 20 different organizations, including persons with disabilities advocacy groups, voter advocacy groups, and the Board’s community partners. Also in attendance were employees from the Board of Elections and representatives from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

At the conclusion of the event, attendees were invited to complete a brief survey for each vendor that asked participants to rate their experience using the ADA ballot-marking and ballot-scanning devices. The Board received insightful feedback from the ADA community regarding the ballot marking devices and voter advocacy groups had an opportunity to interact with representatives from the equipment vendors and Board of Elections staff. Several people in attendance commented that they found the event educational and were glad to have been invited into the acquisition process. Additionally, it gave the Board’s staff another opportunity to interact with the equipment vendors, ask questions, and contemplate how the equipment will suit the election needs of Cuyahoga County.

Participant Surveys

Click here to view the survey for Clear Ballot’s ADA voting machine

Click here to view the survey for ES&S’s ADA voting machine

Click here to view the survey for Hart’s ADA voting machine

 


K. Virtual Security Summit


February 2021

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hosted a virtual Security Summit Friday, February 5, 2021 to review and evaluate the security of each vendor’s hardware and software voting systems. Each of the three tabulation systems vendors: Clear Ballot Group, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), and Hart InterCivic, presented materials related to the hardware and software security of their certified voting tabulation systems available for purchase.

The virtual event consisted of two separate sessions. Voter advocacy groups, the media, and interested stakeholders were invited to the morning session, which consisted of three 20 minute presentations made by each vendor via Zoom Webinar. Audience participants were invited to ask questions and provide feedback to the Board by sending an email to electioninfo@cuyahogacounty.gov. A video recording of this session is available for public viewing on our YouTube page. The afternoon session was a private presentation for board personnel, county IT professionals, and elected officials and included a live Q&A with each vendor to explore additional security topics in more detail.

Vendors discussed a variety of security measures they each deploy to protect their voting equipment and tabulation software from cyber and physical tampering. The physical security of the voting equipment is protected through the use of physical locks, tamper-resistant seals, and routine equipment inspections. Vendors also discussed the physical security of their own corporate offices, the conduct of routine background checks on all employees, and their efforts to maintain the integrity of their manufacturing and transportation supply chains. Each vendor also confirmed that their programing and systems development is done by full-time employees based in the US. Additionally, all vendors emphasized that neither their ballot scanners nor the election management system itself are ever connected to the internet, ensuring that no hackers are able to access our systems remotely. Instead, all data transfers are done using physical memory sticks, hardened computers, and unique encryption keys that prevent manipulation of program and election data. At the conclusion of the event, the IT security professionals in attendance later confirmed that there were no red flags and each vendors had satisfactorily answered all of the technical security-related questions they had been asked.

 



L. Feedback from Current Customers


March 2021 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections conducted a series of Zoom conference calls with several counties that had recently purchased new voting equipment from one of the three remaining vendors being evaluated for the purchase of equipment in Cuyahoga County: Clear Ballot Group, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), and Hart InterCivic. The objective of these calls was to evaluate the equipment performance and customer service provided by the three vendors to these counties during the 2020 General Election cycle.

The inter-agency conversations covered a wide range of topics including, the county’s initial decision-making process, the quality of training and support provided by the vendor during the delivery and initial testing of the new equipment, as well as the public and election official response. After hearing from colleagues well versed in election administration, staff also gained valuable insight into the functionality of the voting equipment. Ultimately, these calls afforded staff the opportunity to learn from the experiences of similarly situated counties and gave the selection committee greater confidence in the relative strengths and weaknesses of each vendor's product prior to making a final recommendation.



M. Election Demonstration


May 2021 

On May 27, 2021 the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hosted a Voting Equipment and Tabulation System Election Demonstration with three certified voting tabulation systems vendors.

The Election Demonstration focused on the experience of the general voter utilizing the certified voting equipment available from Clear Ballot Group, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), and Hart InterCivic. Event attendees included Election Day workers, Voter Advocacy groups, community stakeholders, and the general public. Attendees were able to cast a voted ballot on each of the three vendor’s ballot scanner and ask questions of the vendor representatives. Vendors also demonstrated the set up and tear down process of the equipment for Election Day workers. Attendees were asked to complete a brief survey evaluating the relative performance of each of the three vendor’s voting equipment.

The Board received valuable responses from the attendees, giving a full perspective of both the voter’s and the Election Day worker’s experience with each vendor’s equipment. The demonstration also served as an opportunity for Board’s staff to gain further insight on the technical capabilities of the equipment.



N. Final Staff Recommendation to the Board of Elections


Summer 2022 

The Board of Elections staff intends to provide a final recommendation to the Board by Summer 2022.



O. Procurement and Implementation


Winter 2022-2023 

Once the purchase is approved by the Board, the Board of Elections intends to begin acceptance testing and installation of the new voting equipment by Winter 2022-2023.



P. New Voting System Debut


May 2023 Primary Election 

The Board of Elections plans to complete installation, testing, and poll worker training for the new equipment by the spring of 2023, with the intention of implementing the new voting equipment for the first time during the May 2023 primary election.

 

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