Election Systems and Software (ES&S) DS200

The ES&S DS200 is a precinct-based, voter-activated paper ballot counter and vote tabulator.  The DS200 possesses a 12” LCD touch screen, which is used to provide voters with feedback, such as an overvote warning. When the polls close, the ES&S DS200 prints out the voter logs so election officials can have a paper tally. Like the Hart Intercivic eScan, the Dominion ImageCast and the Premier/Diebold OSX, the DS200 captures digitized images of all ballots scanned. This allows write-in votes and problematic ballot markings to be processed using the digitized images, so that once the ballots are scanned, they need not be handled except in the event of a recount or audit.

DS200The DS200 is a jurisdiction-wide election tabulation system. The DS200 scanners process single or dual-sided paper ballots for up to 18 Election Day precincts and 1639 Early Voting precincts, permit programming of separate election groups for the procedural processing and storage of provisional ballots separately from Election Day totals for inclusion, after determination of voter validity, automatically prints a Zero report when the polls open, can be configured to automatically print one or more reports (Status, Race Results, Certification or Audit Log,) have a public counter that displays the number of ballots cast, store paper ballots in attached ballot storage bins (key locked ballot boxes), and do not store any ballot data; all ballot data, election totals and optional ballot images are stored on an external USB flash drive which can be transported to a central count location. The Ds200 prevents access to the USB election flash drive via a key locked compartment. It prints reports including: Election Startup, Poll Closing, Diagnostic, Initial State, Audit Log, Zero and Certification and audit logging and reporting; The Ds200 operates on standard or two hour back-up battery power.

DS200 source code consists of C/C++ components. The ESSUNITY3200 baseline was modified during the Unity EAC test effort. A total of 651 functions were changed. Each of the changed functions was reviewed by the EAC for conformance to the VVSG 2005. There were 42 instances of non-conformance reported to ES&S. ES&S submitted fixes and they were validated as resolved. All source code discrepancies were comment related. None of the discrepancies were against any of the software related VVSG 2005 requirements. The file function line count results identified no files or functions exceeded 240 eLOCs, 3.47% were between 60 and 120 lines, .23% were between 120 and 240 lines, the remaining 96.30% were less than 60 lines.

Voting Process:  After receiving your ballot from the election officer, fill in the oval located next to your selection for a candidate or choice of an issue. When you have finished filling in your ballot, you will feed your ballot into the DS200 machine.

As votes are entered, the DS200 stores the vote tallies on its internal memory card. Optional land line and wireless modems are available for the DS200.  When the polls close, the DS200’s internal printer prints out the precinct’s vote report on paper.

Common ballot problems occur when voters vote for too many candidates in one race or when voters cast their ballots in the wrong precinct. Make sure you read your ballot carefully and understand how many candidates to vote for.

If you have a question, please ask a Poll Worker. If you make a mistake on your ballot, return it to a Poll Worker and ask for a new one. You can request up to two replacement ballots. Be sure to double check your ballot for accuracy, as improperly marked votes will not be counted. Once your ballot is scanned and accepted, your vote is final.


A DS200 Voting Demo produced by ES&S:

A Voting Demo produced by Cuyahoga County OH:

Security Concerns

Security Seals Ideally, the DS200’s exposed ports, memory card access areas, ballot box doors and case seams would be covered with tamper-evident security seals. The integrity of these seals should be maintained at all times, and only breached under controlled, explained circumstances. Seals should be logged to maintain chain of custody of sensitive materials.

Ballot Box Access Optical scan systems have at least one and possible more ballot boxes. Each ballot box should be inspected by a voter at the beginning of voting to make sure that they are empty. These ballot boxes should locked and/or be sealed with tamper-evident tape.

The Memory Card is Sensitive Corrupt memory cards may be able to introduce viruses, cause the main election server to crash and falsify votes. Access to the memory card should be controlled, monitored and logged at all times.

Correct Inks Some Optical Scan systems have trouble reading red inks or inks with red in them. Voters should use the writing instrument provided at the polling place or, if voting at home, black ballpoint pen that does not bleed through paper.

Unresponsive Touchscreens1 During EAC testing on the Unity voting system, some DS200s stopped responding to interactions with the user interface. The anomaly presented itself at random times during the testing process. ES&S informed the EAC that the root cause of touch screen unresponsiveness is linked to an improperly implemented internal system log. This log is only accessible to ES&S technicians when troubleshooting errors with the fielded system. One specific event tracked by this log is the presence of the election media USB memory stick. If the unit is powered on without a memory stick inserted, the system records an event eight (8) times per second to the log. When the log reaches capacity, it causes a section of the internal compact flash (CF) card to become inaccessible. This same section of the CF card contains the calibration settings for the DS200’s touch screen interface. When this section of the CF card is inaccessible the calibration settings are no longer available to the system so the screen becomes unresponsive.

Skewed Ballots 2 During testing on the Unity, a DS200 did not count a valid mark for a race. The anomaly was discovered when county testers reviewed the printed election summary report for the DS200 unit. The count for a single contest did not match the expected results. The test was performed to verify that ES&S had corrected a previous anomaly with similar symptoms. The county testers were using a 17” ballot with contests concentrated in the lower sections of the ballot. In discussion with the EAC, ES&S stated that they have only been able to replicate this issue in testing by removing the plastic guides and physically altering the ballot (cutting of a corner). In an effort to understand the issue the EAC focused on reviewing ballot images from several states and  previous test campaigns. The review included 11”, 14”, 17” and 19” ballots. In the course of the review, the EAC found various degrees of ballot image distortion; with the 17” ballot having the largest degree of skew. The EAC is working with jurisdictions, VSTLs and the manufacturer to understand and resolve this issue.

During the EAC Certification process3  it was revealed that a DS200 coded for Election Day counting will not support more than 18 precincts, the DS200 does not support more than 40 ballot styles in a single absentee precinct in a ballot by-style election. If an election definition contains more than 40 ballot styles, the user has to define more than one absentee precinct and then separate the ballots into groups for processing. In addition, all optical scan ballots used in a given election must be the same size and have the same position capacity, an early vote station will only support a maximum limit of 9999 precincts meaning that a large number of precincts may result in small ballot processing delays, and an early vote station will not be able to print a precinct-by-precinct report by default.