March 15, 2018
While it may seem random that election officials in Gloucester County NJ chose the Mantua Township Fire District election to debut the ExpressVote XL™ Full-Face Universal Voting System for its first use in a live election, if you think about it, fire departments and elections have a lot of things in common…
- Both are trustworthy
- Both offer security you can count on
- Both are led by dedicated civic leaders
- Both are good stewards of taxpayer dollars
- Both are deemed critical to national security and designated as national critical infrastructures
… just to name a few.
So, what’s a Fire District election you ask? We wondered the same thing! Generally, fire departments can be assigned to one of three government bodies – municipal government, county government or a fire district. A fire district has a governing board that provides policy and direction. In the Garden State, 185 fire districts in 80 municipalities hold annual elections for their boards of fire commissioners. While the ExpressVote XL is in its final stages of federal and state certification testing, fire board elections in NJ fall under NJSA Title 40 - Municipalities and Counties, which does not require election equipment be state certified.
“Our current equipment is nearly 19 years old, and we have been looking for quite a while at different equipment available in the marketplace,” Director of Election Operations for Gloucester County NJ, Mark Harris said. “We have been talking to ES&S about the ExpressVote XL for at least two years. providing feedback about the needs of voters in New Jersey during the system’s design and development. The fire board election was the perfect opportunity to test the system and get public feedback.”
The New Jersey ES&S team spent about 15 minutes before the polls opened training poll workers on the ExpressVote XL.
“Everyone was impressed with how simple opening the polls, voting and closing the polls worked,” Harris said. “Voters felt the XL was very intuitive — the interactive screen simply prompts the voter through the process.”
The ExpressVote XL uses a paper card to activate a voting session, then prints a summary of the voter’s selections on that same card to create a verifiable paper record.
“In addition to voters being able to verify their votes, it’s very important that election officials have the ability to audit their elections against a paper record, and with the XL they have that ability … even if they had to count votes by hand, with the XL they can,” Harris said.
Harris said that the ExpressVote XL is the exact hybrid system New Jersey needs. As a full-face Universal Voting System, the XL combines all contests for a jurisdiction on an easy to use 32” HD interactive screen with many different layout options, including grid style for party voting in rows or columns.
“It’s a long time coming for this secure hybrid voting technology to be available in Jersey. Election workers want it and voters need it,” Harris said.
And speaking of secure, as we all know, security is a cornerstone of the ES&S development process. The ExpressVote XL operating software was designed with security access controls to limit and detect access. The unit’s hardware provides multiple locations to securely lock and seal all critical access points to prevent unauthorized use of the system.
“At ES&S we put the customer and voter needs first. Election officials need secure, innovative solutions, and they need them now,” said President & CEO Tom Burt. “Our emphasis has been on building products that will not only advance the market in a significant way technologically, but that deliver on the highest security standards.”