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Case Study: Cambria County, PA — ES&S Equipment Successfully Supports Pandemic Demands

January 28, 2021

Voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania, including those voting by mail, can depend on a robust, resilient and reliable voting system for years to come.


Chart of how Americans cast their votes in 2020 as compared to 2016, showing a large increase in mail-in votingWith the COVID-19 pandemic’s overwhelming presence, election officials reported historic levels of in-person and voting by mail in both the 2020 Primary and General elections. As reported by the New York Times on November 12, 2020, approximately 39% of registered voters in the U.S. voted by mail in the 2020 General election1, 2, up from 24% of registered voters in the 2016 General election3.

To address these demands, jurisdictions across the country rapidly expanded and adjusted operations. The key to Cambria County, Pennsylvania’s success? The versatility and adaptability of ES&S voting systems, especially the DS200 Precinct Scanner and Tabulator and the DS450 High-Throughput Scanner and Tabulator.

Our equipment performed very well, without any issues. This system is way more efficient… Everything went better than I expected it to. ES&S did exactly what I knew they could do.”

Unprecedented Elections

In May 2019, Cambria County purchased a new voting system that met their needs. But their needs quickly changed when COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions.

As the Pennsylvania Primary approached in June 2020 amid swelling anxiety surrounding public health and safety during elections, Cambria County voters returned an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots. On October 31, 2019, Pennsylvania added a new, no-excuse-needed means to vote using a mail-in ballot. Prior to this, voting by mail in Pennsylvania was only allowed for qualified absentee voters.4

2019 General2020 Primary2020 General

Mail-in Ballots




Election Day Ballots≤33,48917,95152,448
Total Ballots Cast33,83929,84570,156
Unofficial Results Reported on Election Day11 p.m.11 p.m.11:30 p.m.

Without fail, Cambria County’s voting system successfully supported the first expanded mail ballot election. The rapid, reliable ballot processing speed provided by ES&S equipment supported an even greater mail ballot surge for the November 2020 general election. By mid-day on Election Day, approximately 10,000 ballots had already been processed.

Keys to Success

Timely processing of the unprecedented quantity of mail-in ballots also required adjustments in staffing, processes and procedures. Crowl assembled a ballot prep team. Members watched ES&S’ ballot prep video before getting started on Election Day, “so they had an idea of what to do,” she said. “It worked well.”

Five teams of two people opened and flattened mail-in ballots. Another ballot prep team member took prepped ballots to a team member who scanned them. They followed best practices for ballot preparation, including backfolding ballots along existing creases and separating ballots that were seriously soiled or torn.

“The fact that they were able to timely open, prep and scan all mail-in ballots for their first expanded mail ballot election far exceeded the expectations of anyone there,” said Matt Lewandoski, ES&S certified trainer, who provided site support to Cambria County during the system’s second use. “The way the process was set up was critical. This shows what great preparation can do for an increase in mail-in ballots. The amount of prep and forethought was key to their success.”

The customer service Cambria received also was critical to success.

We all worked well together. ES&S people and equipment were a big part of our success. It was a good combination.”

She said ES&S has always been responsive.

“Anything I’ve ever asked of them, they have done,” Crowl said. “Anytime I have a question or need assistance, someone is there to help us. I’ve never had a bad experience. Someone always gets back to you. You can get any product but if you don’t have service and support teams behind you then it doesn’t matter.”

Cambria County’s New Voting Equipment

Cambria County is home to approximately 82,000 registered voters and 125 polling places.

ExpressVote Universal Voting System

ExpressVote® Universal Voting System
127 units
The auditable paper-based system uses secure touch-screen technology, eliminating unclear hand-marks and the need for interpretation of marks.

DS200 precinct-based ballot scanner and vote tabulator

DS200® Precinct Scanner and Tabulator
127 units
The DS200’s flexibility and efficiency take traditional optical-scan ballot vote tabulation to the next level.

DS850 high‐throughput scanner and vote tabulator

DS450® High-Throughput Scanner and Tabulator
2 units
Built specifically for elections, the DS450 processes ballots at a central location.

Electionware election management softwareElectionware® Election Management Software
Electionware makes election management more intuitive and offers election officials the ability to conduct a wide range of post-election audits

ES&S’ Extended Warranty and Preventative Maintenance Program includes regularly scheduled equipment upkeep to avoid equipment interruptions and to ensure peak performance for a smooth election.

  1. “Record-Setting Turnout: Tracking Early Voting in the 2020 Election,” The New York Times, last modified November 12, 2020,
  2. “President-Elect Joe Biden Hits 80 Million Votes In Year Of Record Turnout”, NPR, last modified November 25, 2020,
  3. “2016 Election Administration Voting Survey”, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, last updated June 2017,
  4. “2019 Act 77, Pennsylvania Election Code – Omnibus Amendments,” Pennsylvania General Assembly, last updated October 31, 2019,