North Carolina will use ballot-scanning technology to ensure voting accuracy
The North Carolina State Board of Elections announced that it will be using a ballot-scanning program developed by CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G) and Motorola for the November presidential election. The program will be used statewide.
With more than 100 different ballots used in some North Carolina elections, the state called on CDW-G to provide technology that would prevent human error in ballot distribution at polling sites and streamline the ballot-distribution process. According to Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW-G, the state required user-friendly technology that could be applied to additional post-election tasks as well. Of course, the state also needed to see a substantial return on its investment.
“With tens or even hundreds of different ballot styles needed in every election, human error in ballot distribution is possible, but it is not inevitable,” said Jim Grass, CDW-G senior director of state and local sales. “The right technology, coupled with the state’s methodical process at the precincts, makes ballot distribution as simple and accurate as point and click. Most importantly, it strengthens citizens’ confidence in the voting process.”
The statewide rollout follows a successful pilot program launched during the May presidential primaries in nine counties where optical-scan voting machines enabled voters to record their choices by directly marking the ballot. In the pilot program, poll workers used Symbol P460 bar code scanners from Motorola to verify that each voter received the appropriate ballot.
The statewide rollout will bring the scanners to all 2,751 North Carolina precincts.
Scanner will alert poll workers when incorrect ballots are handed out
Under the guidance of CDW-G, the North Carolina State Board of Elections tested several products, including handheld bar code scanners and personal digital assistants (PDAs). After evaluating the products against its requirements, North Carolina selected the Symbol P460 from Motorola, a wireless bar code scanner with a forward-scanning pistol grip.
While the scanner commonly is used for inventory management, CDW-G and Motorola saw beyond the traditional usage model and determined that it could be adapted easily to meet the state’s ballot-scanning needs, according to CDW-G. Poll workers simply scan the bar code on the voter’s authorization form and then the bar code on the paper ballot. If the bar codes do not match, an error message is displayed, followed by a distinct tone. The poll worker then must manually scan a new ballot. When the bar codes match, the poll worker receives both visible and audible confirmations.
Working closely with Motorola, CDW-G helped the state to identify a scanner solution that not is only user-friendly but also boasts a programmable architecture that allows the state to develop custom applications, according to CDW-G. When the P460 bar code scanners are not needed during elections, the custom-application capability enables the state to use the scanners to track equipment.
“The P460 bar code scanner from Motorola is a proven solution that will help the North Carolina State Board of Elections improve the accuracy of elections, help secure the integrity of the vote and help streamline the voting process,” said Kevin DeSpain, Motorola director of sales, mobile computing and applications. “The P460 is an easy-to-use scanner that will alert poll workers when incorrect ballots are handed out. These innovative scanners are designed to reduce user fatigue and can be customized to meet the various needs of the Board of Elections on Election Day and beyond.”
Marc Burris, IT director for the North Carolina State Board of Elections IT, said that the CDW-G/Motorola product “can ensure that each voter receives the right ballot.”
“Not only is the scanner solution extremely easy to use, but it could save our North Carolina election jurisdictions the cost of re-running an election due to ballot-distribution errors,” Burris said. “Based upon the projected cost avoidance and the overwhelming success of the pilot program, we made the decision to expand the program statewide this fall.”