The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to approve a new voting system from Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) for use in state elections.

The new voting system – the EVS system – is now one of several state-certified voting systems. Counties within the state can choose from any of the certified systems to determine how votes will be cast and counted in their localities.

“The State Board’s unanimous decision to certify this voting system gives county boards of elections and boards of commissioners another option when deciding which system best serves their voters,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “This system has been through rigorous testing as part of Federal and state certifications, and it is certified, used, and audited in other states. Combined with many other safeguards in our elections process, election officials are confident that this system will ensure accurate, secure elections for our voters.”

The State Board of Elections said in a press release that the new system includes an upgrade to the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, increased memory capacity, the new DS300 polling place scanner/tabulator, the new DS950 high-speed scanner/tabulator, and new reporting and ballot design modules, among other features.

If a county chooses to use the new system, voters will cast paper ballots in one of two ways. First, voters can use a pen to mark selections on a paper ballot, check their selections, and insert their ballot into a tabulator at their voting site.

Voters could also make selections using a touch-screen ballot-marking device called the ExpressVote, which prints out a completed paper ballot that the voter double-checks and inserts into a tabulator. A press release explained that voters’ selections are recorded on a memory card in the tabulator for later counting.

The Board of Elections explained that almost all North Carolina voters use paper ballots, providing a paper trail of all votes cast that can be audited or recounted by elections officials.

Prior to its vote, the State Board determined that EVS meets all criteria defined in North Carolina’s Elections Systems Certification Program. The system also meets Federal standards established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). As part of the certification process, the board of elections noted that Pro Verification and Validation (Pro V&V), an independent test lab accredited by the EAC to examine voting systems, conducted a procedural and technical evaluation of EVS and found that it meets the requirements for voting systems in North Carolina.

The Board of Elections noted that before the system can be used in the state, ES&S must place in an escrow account the source code for software of the system relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system. Additionally, upon securing any contracts ES&S must post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects in the voting system. The board of elections has set this amount as $17.02 million, or the cost of a new statewide election.

Each county board of elections interested in the new system must witness a demonstration of the system and at least one other system. Interested county boards are also required to test the system in at least one precinct in a live election or through simulated election procedures established by the state.

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