The Wilson County Election Commission recently evaluated a new voting system to assess its ability to improve the local voting experience.
In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), mandating electronic voting systems to replace the punch-card systems. Grants were provided to pay for the new equipment, and Wilson County purchased the iVotronic voting machines used today.
As politics and technology have changed over the past decade, innovations and updated standards have led to the creation of new voting systems. The election commission tested the latest voting technology in recent real-life voting situations.
"Seeing first-hand how these voting machines are set up and function in extreme election situations and voters' reaction to them gives us a unique insight into their possible implementation in Wilson County," Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren said.
The election commission held two elections at all four Wilson County high schools. One election used the current voting equipment, and the other utilized the ExpressVote system. Having two elections using each system made the comparison of the current voting system and the new system measurable. Being able to test the capabilities of the new equipment under extreme voting conditions was important, according to election officials. Lebanon High School voted 1,095 students in five hours, and Mt. Juliet High School voted 1,495 students in two-and-a-half hours. The large number of voters and limited time for voting was a critical test for the ExpressVote.
ExpressVote is a universal voting system that combines paper-based voting with touchscreen technology to create voting solutions for Early Voting and Election Day.
"The EAC-certified ExpressVote is a cornerstone of our visionary voting approach. The ExpressVote allows every voter to make selections independently and has the security of paper records. Voters can feel safe that their selections can be verified on Election Night and beyond with this next-generation system," Election Systems & Software Regional Sales Manager Mac Beeson explained.
All voting systems must be certified at the federal and state levels before being available for use by voters. The certification process is rigorous and takes years. There are many factors to consider, including the expense and expected useful life before implementing a new voting system. The main consideration and goal of testing ExpressVote, election officials said, is to determine if the technology will make the voting experience of Wilson County voters better and maintain the integrity of every vote cast.