Election Systems and Software (ES&S) Model 100

The ES&S Model 100 is a precinct-based, voter-activated paper ballot counter and vote tabulator that uses visible light scanning to count and record voter information from paper ballots. The first machine to incorporate integrated-circuit image sensors into a ballot tabulator was the American Information Systems PBC 100 scanner, later known as the Model 100. The system, which came on the market just as AIS was reorganized into ES&S in the late 90s, uses an Intel 80386 microprocessor to process the data from the image sensor. It reads the election configuration from a PCMCIA memory card before opening the polls. When the polls close, it records the results to the memory card and optionally transmits them by modem to the election office.

The Model 100 uses a mark-sense ballot, which may vary from one column to three columns across a ballot 8.5 inches in width, and from 14 to 21 inches in length. Each column of the ballot consists of one or more contests, each with one or more candidate or measure selection positions. The ballot may be printed on one or on both sides. Adjacent to each candidate or issue selection position is printed an unfilled oval. The voter uses a marker to fill in or darken the oval. Several types of marking devices are suitable for use with the Model 100. A carbon ink-based felt-tip marking pen which produces a mark of adequate reflectivity is the preferred marking instrument in the polling place. The reflectivity specifications of such markers, as well as the manufacturers thereof, are available from ES&S. A Number 2 lead pencil can also be used. The Model 100 precinct-based ballot tabulation unit is intended for polling place use. It is a portable device which measures approximately 14.25 inches wide, 16.25 inches deep, and 5 inches high. Its exterior is constructed of high-impact plastic. The unit weighs 19 pounds, 7 ounces with the battery included. The Model 100 is secured into its companion three-compartment ballot box. The ballot box comes in two variations – one metal and one plastic – that is collapsible and is equipped with wheels. In the operational mode, the ballot box is 35 inches high, 20.75 inches wide and 25.25 inches deep. In its nested or transportable mode, ballot box dimensions are 20 inches high, 21 inches wide and 25.5 inches deep.

Voting Process: The voter places a voted ballot into the ballot entry slot, which causes the drive motor to be energized, and the ballot is taken into the device for processing. After the ballot has passed through the read station and the voting marks on it have been interpreted, it is placed into the ballot box or it is diverted to one of two compartments in the ballot box as determined by the jurisdiction using the device. The front face of the Model 100 contains a four-line, 40-character per line LCD message display area. During polling place operation, the LCD continuously displays the number of ballots which have been processed since opening the polls that day. The Memory Card is secured within the Model 100 by a sealed security clip attached to the locked front face-plate on the unit. The short, 3-inch read path of the Model 100 virtually eliminates ballot jams. All voter/precinct worker communication is done via the LCD message area in full alphanumeric text.

Prior to use in any election, the Model 100 must be put in readiness to process ballots for that election via ES&S-supplied election preparation and ballot tabulation application software. This software describes the offices, measures and voting response positions on each precinct’s ballots. It describes the number to be elected to each office, the results to be accumulated, the statistics to be accumulated, the reports and messages to be printed, the selection of ballot path and striping options, and other parameters of a specific election. This software transfers or downloads these parameters, which are precinct or ballot style specific, to the Model 100 via a Memory Card.

The Memory Card is a reusable PCMCIA intermediate storage device which contains the election-specific information required to process and tabulate precinct-level ballots for a given election. The Memory Card serves as a medium for the temporary short-term storage of this data before it is read into the Summary System. Once this data is uploaded, and subsequently certified during the Official Canvass process, the Memory Card may be cleared of totals and be made available for future elections. If required, the election can be reconstructed from original ballots and the Model 100 Memory Card-produced Precinct Election Result Tapes.

A video demonstration of the Model 100:

Voting on an ES&S Model 100 Ballot:

Security Concerns

Security Seals Ideally, the M100’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.

Memory Card is Sensitive Corrupt memory cards may be able 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.

Keys The keys for the M100 are the same for all M100 machines and are easily pickable with readily available tools. Care should be observed around the ballot box lock and the scanner key lock (turns the system off and on).

Counterfeit Ballots It is fairly easy to frustrate the counterfeit ballot detection mechanism on the M100. People who produce counterfeit ballots could cast multiple votes and the detectability of these ballots would only depend on how close they appeared to be like the real ballot cards.

Background1

In the 1980s, the advent of simple one-dimensional sensors spawned a revolution in such applications as fax machines and page scanners. The first machine to incorporate this technology into a ballot tabulator was the American Information Systems PBC 100 scanner, later known as the Model 100. The system, which came on the market just as AIS was reorganized into ES&S, uses an Intel 80386 microprocessor to process the data from the image sensor. It reads the election configuration from a PCMCIA memory card before opening the polls. When the polls close, it records the results to the memory card and optionally transmits them by modem to the election office. As such, the PCMCIA card serves the same purposes as the memory pack used on the Optech I scanner.

  1. Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons, Broken Ballots, 2012

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