Louisiana Case Study:
June 21, 2012
BACKGROUND The State of Louisiana has a multi-platform statewide election system furnished by Dominion Voting Systems and its predecessors for over 20 years. Beginning in 1991, the State began implementation of the AVC Advantage full-face DRE for Election Day voting in Acadia Parish. Each year they would continue to add AVC Advantage units and in 1998 they had 12 parishes using 4,000 units. In 2006, using HA VA funding, they bought an additional 4,500 AVC Advantage units, so that all 64 parishes use it now for all Election Day, Precinct Voting. They have since increased the total number of AVC units to approximately 9,800 units. Louisiana also provides a week of Early Voting in each parish on 660 AVC Edge units and offers mail absentee ballot tabulation. Louisiana’s election system is administered from the state level by the Election Division of the Secretary of State’s office. Statewide voter registration, election definition, ballot printing and election results reporting are all administered by the Election Division via the ERIN (Elections & Registration Information Network) system.
WinEDS programs the AVC Advantage, AVC Edge and the Mail Absentee Tabulation System. WinEDS also tallies results from all the AVC Advantages, Edges and the Mail Absentee Tabulators in a parish. Parish Manager, a custom software system developed exclusively for Louisiana by Dominion Voting, serves as the data-importing feature between ERIN and WinEDS. It populates the parish profile data and contest/candidate information. It has proven to save a tremendous amount of time in election preparation of WinEDS and eliminates mistakes caused by manual entry of profile data.
In each parish the Secretary of State has a voting machine warehouse; the WinEDS database is used to produce the cartridges required to program the Advantages and is matched with the printed full-face ballot for each machine. A second WinEDS laptop is located at the parish Clerk of Courts office for tally, reporting and creating the election export to upload into ERIN for reporting purposes on the Internet. At the parish Registrar of Voters office, another WinEDS laptop is used to load the cartridges for the Edge and Card activators.
Mail absentee ballots are available from the parish Registrar of Voters. Mail absentee ballots were designed in a multi-card format, with the ballot content spread over 3-10 cards per voter (a hold-over from Louisiana’s old DataVote system). This ballot design multiples the number of mail absentee voters by the number of cards per voter. Ballots are tabulated on Election Day at the ROV’s office.
Louisiana will receive approximately 50,000 registered voter’s ballots by mail absentee voting in the major elections such as the Presidential and Governor’s Elections. This can produce as many as 400,000 individual ballots to be processed by the OpScan tabulators across the state.
What Dominion Did.
In early 2010, Louisiana began looking at new technology to replace their OpScan Tabulators. In late 2010, Dominion demonstrated its new ImageCast® Central Digital Optical Scan System accompanied by Democracy Suite as the Central programming system.
After looking at all aspects of Absentee Voting in Louisiana, the State decided on 110 ImageCast® Central units that included the ImageCast® Central Software as its absentee system of choice. This offered the State the ability to “assemble” all ballots previously issued to one voter onto one ballot. This would be accomplished automatically by Democracy Suite (DS), which can generate an electronic copy of this ballot and has the ability to make ballot printing more efficient and less expensive. This significantly reduced the number of ballots to be scanned in a large election – from 400,000 to less than 50,000. In addition, the new scanning system offered much greater security and auditability. Not only is the entire image available for viewing but the interpretation of how the scanner actually reads the ballot is also included below the image. This proves to be an enormous benefit when conducting recounts.
Dominion worked with the State of Louisiana to utilize as much existing equipment as possible to help lower their overall cost of implementation. As such, Dominion was able to use existing laptop computers, printers and storage/transportation equipment. Dominion worked with the jurisdiction to ensure a smooth transition to the new system by modifying Parish Manager so that ERIN was compatible with Democracy Suite. In addition, Dominion provided the ability to create the camera-ready copy for the “Ranking” Ballots and “UOCAVA“ Ballots, a State requirement, which had always been done manually in the past. All of these uses of existing equipment and automated services helped to reduce the ongoing cost and the price of the total system.
The first use of the ImageCast® Central Absentee Tabulation System was in the Governor’s Primary on October 22, 2011. The scanners and software arrived by June where they were configured with the existing laptops and printers and packaged in the existing transportation cases. They were delivered to the Registrar of Voters in each parish in July.
August was spent training the Registrars on-site by the Louisiana Election Division Staff, who had previously received hands-on training by experienced Dominion staff. Together, Dominion and Louisiana designed a User Manual tailored to Louisiana’s specific laws and procedures. September was a busy month spent with the initial use of Parish Manager in conjunction with Democracy Suite and WinEDS. It was a very successful effort as a result of prior planning in a collaborative environment.
On Election Day, the State of Louisiana conducted the Primary in 64 Parishes comprised of three different departments (Clerk of Court, Registrar of Voters and Warehouse Operations). The new ImageCast® Central Absentee Tabulation System counted 19,139 ballots. All parishes had their Absentee ballots counted before the polls closed at 8:00 P.M. The new Tabulation System was a complete success.