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ES&S Case Study: South Carolina

February 21, 2020

“Prepared in Mind and Resources”
— More Than a State Motto

The Palmetto State provides voters with an enhanced, resilient and dependable voting system for years to come.

A paper record of every ballot cast has become the gold standard for elections across the U.S. South Carolina was one of a few states across the nation voting on systems that did not produce a paper trail.

The shape of South Carolina with the palmetto from the state flag inset, next to a person's hand holding a voted paper ballot card.Overview

Almost every Tuesday, there is an election being held somewhere in South Carolina. Up until the state decided to upgrade its equipment, South Carolinians had been voting on touch screens for 15 years. The state recognized paper ballots add an important layer of security to the election process and gives their more than 3 million registered voters across 46 counties more confidence in the accuracy of the state’s elections.

Challenges

  • Previous system was nearing the end of its useful life
  • Moving to a comprehensive paper-based audit process

Selection Process

  • An evaluation panel from the State Election Commission considered a total of seven proposals, including both hand-marked and ballot-marking systems from three voting system providers.
  • During the process, the panel consulted with nearly 20 experts in cybersecurity, voter accessibility and election administration.
  • It was important to panel members that the company they selected would be around for a long time and had proven ability to support and implement a statewide system.
  • After independent scoring and deliberation, the panel unanimously selected ES&S.

"While there are some advantages to hand-marked ballots, the panel unanimously found those were outweighed by the advantages of ballot-marking devices.” -- Marci Andino, State Election Commission executive director. (Post and Courier, Commentary: New SC paper-ballot voting system is easier, more secure, 10/31/19)

South Carolina’s New ES&S Voting Equipment

ExpressVote Universal Voting System

ExpressVote® Universal Voting System
13,779 units deployed
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
2,464 units deployed
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
16 units deployed
Built specifically for elections, the DS450 processes ballots of various sizes in less time.

DS200 precinct-based ballot scanner and vote tabulatorElectionware® 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.

Election officials in Aiken County
Election officials in Aiken County, proud of their newly implemented equipment. (from left to right: Amy Leonhardt, Cynthia Holland, Yolanda Dortch; in front: Michael Bond)

Implementation

South Carolina’s original plan was to work with ES&S to complete the implementation, training, etc., and have their first use of the new equipment in the state’s February 2020 presidential primary. Implementation and training went so well; the state opted to use the machines four months ahead of schedule. Two South Carolina counties held successful first-use elections in October 2019, and 40 counties held equally successful elections with their new equipment in November 2019.

“We went above and beyond for South Carolina in providing stellar customer service. In such large implementations, there are a lot of questions with a lot of moving parts. With the help of our partner, Printelect, we were able to be incredibly nimble and serve the state quickly and effectively.” – ES&S Account Manager, Cara Florence

Implementation and training went so well, the state opted to use the machines four months ahead of schedule.

Results

  • In half the time planned, South Carolina deployed nearly 14,000 ExpressVote voting machines and more than 2,400 DS200 ballot scanner and vote tabulation machines, as well as central count machines and Electionware election management software.
  • Counties reported a smooth Election Day set up and close for poll workers.
  • Voters were excited about the new machines and the opportunity to review their paper ballot.
  • Election Day proved to be a simple transition for voters. Voters had no problem adapting to the new machines and thought the new process was very simple.
Conway Belangia, Greenville County's Director of Voter Registration and Elections with rows of locked DS200 units.
South Carolina voting equipment, including the DS200 units shown here with Greenville County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Conway Belangia, is stored in locations with security cameras and personnel access controls.

What South Carolinians Have to Say

  • “Preparing the election (with Electionware) was so quick and easy, I had time to think! … [After election night reporting] I’m so excited right now I don’t know what do to with myself.”
    Vernon Kemp, election systems specialist for Beaufort County
  • “It’s simple to use; it’s not hard at all… People were asking for paper and now they’ll get paper in hand. They’ll have a chance to confirm it (the ballot) before they print it out.”
    Cynthia Holland, executive director of Aiken County Registration and Elections (Aiken Standard, New voting machines will be used in S.C. House District 84 special election, 9/18/19)
  • “It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s secure … It’s a check-and-balance system we have now that we didn’t have at one time.”
    Pat Jefferson, director of Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections, (The Sumter Item, New ExpressVote machines ready to use, 10/5/19)
  • “Things went well. I heard a lot of positive. The voters were excited about the new machine and the opportunity to review their ballots with the paper aspects of it.”
    Marie Smalls, Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections director (WJCL, Beaufort County officials call new voting system a success, 11/6/19)