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Patented Accuracy: IMR and PTRAC Technology

April 13, 2016

Patented Technology Takes The Work Out Of Adjudication

For Election Day, officials look for reliable scanners and tabulators that can quickly and accurately read ballots, ensuring voter intent. Manual review and adjudication can be a time-consuming process, so assurances that tabulation was accurate the first time is gold in the elections industry. Historically, improperly marked ballots were often kicked back for additional review which simply delays the tabulation process, casts doubt on the accuracy of the election and adds significant cost to the entire process.  The good news? Patented Intelligent Mark Recognition (IMR®) and Positive Target Recognition & Alignment Compensation (PTRAC®) technology, a standard in every ES&S tabulator manufactured today, eliminates this margin of error.

Every election official has dealt with this scenario during an Election Day – ballots filled out with checkmarks, slashes and eraser marks. The human eye can clearly see what the voter was attempting but some tabulators may view these variations negatively, kicking out ballots for review. IMR has the ability to recognize these common non-traditional voter marks. It considers not just pixel count, but also the shape of each mark, determining a pattern and the mark’s intent. Stray marks and irregularities like eraser residue don’t confuse ES&S tabulators as they don’t leave a definitive pattern for IMR to pick-up.

Patented PTRAC technology helps IMR more easily identify voter marks during scanning and tabulation. To accomplish this, PTRAC’s sophisticated image processing algorithms use each ballot’s timing marks to quickly create an evaluation window where each contest’s ovals appear. The ballot image is moved as necessary to compensate for skewed, stretched or crumpled ballots.

Utilizing the ballot’s timing marks allows PTRAC to locate the oval for each contest in the aforementioned scanning window. PTRAC detects the exact center of the oval and then digitally removes the oval perimeter outline, leaving just the voter’s marks, which are then verified by IMR.


IMR and PTRAC are the answer to ensuring tabulation accuracy. Tried and proven, these technologies were recently put to the test in Goochland County, Virginia. After the November 2015 General Election the Goochland Electoral Board, specifically its Secretary, Robin Lind, received permission to conduct an audit of the DS200 (equipped with IMR and PTRAC) results. The audit was conducted by hand counting ballots from four precincts in question and comparing them to the Election Night Results from November 3. In the end, the hand-counted ballots matched the DS200’s Election Night Results perfectly.

When Mr. Lind reported these results to the Virginia State Board of Elections, he stated that the audit proved the absolute reliability of the DS200 optical scan equipment and further established the wisdom of using paper ballots.

IMR and PTRAC technology ensure even the most problematic ballots can be read accurately and consistently allowing for real time ballot adjudication. Want to know more about protecting voter intent every time a ballot is tabulated? Contact a member of our sales team for more information and learn more about the DS200, DS450 and DS850 tabulators that come standard with IMR and PTRAC.