What is it?
The eSlate is an electronic voting device, also known as a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system. The eSlate has won acclaim for its ease of use, accessibility and accurate vote tabulation.
The eSlate is roughly the size of a legal pad, about one inch thick and weighs 5.2 pounds. The ballot is presented to the voter on a durable color screen. Selections are made by using the rotary SELECT wheel and the ENTER button. There is a small printer adjacent to the eSlate that prints a paper record of the voter's ballot choices. The eSlate is stored in a durable voting booth with privacy screens and can be easily transported to the polling place.
eSlates are never connected to the internet. Votes are stored in three separate locations, in addition to the paper record. When the polls close on Election Day, the data is transported to the Elections Office following the same security procedures as with the paper ballots and optical scan voting machines in past elections.
Voter Verifiable Paper Trail (VVPAT)
California law (Elections Code §19250c) requires the use of a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for any electronic votes cast in an election conducted in California. The VVPAT is a complete paper record of the voter's ballot choices. It is used by the voter to verify their voted choices, used by election officials to verify election results during the Canvass and is the official record in the case of a recount.
The eSlate prints a paper copy of the voter's choices so that they can verify that their electronic vote matches the paper record prior to casting their ballot. The printed copy, known as the Voter Verifiable Paper Trail (VVPAT) is printed in the selected language of the voter and is viewed through a clear cover on the printer that ensures no one can tamper with the ballot. Once the voter casts their ballot electronically, the paper rolls up out of view and into the secure printer box so that the next voter cannot see the previous voter's selections.
How the eSlate Works
The eSlate is not a touch screen voting device. Voters navigate through the ballot with the SELECT wheel and making their choices by pressing the ENTER button. Voters are given the opportunity to review their ballot choices and can make changes before casting their ballot.
Using the SELECT wheel, the voter selects a language - English, Spanish or Chinese. Next, the voter enters the randomly generated four-digit access code they receive at check-in at the polling place. The code tells the system which ballot to produce for the voter's precinct. The access code does not identify the voter in any way and cannot be linked to the voter.
Making Ballot Choices
The ballot then appears on the color screen and the voter uses the SELECTwheel to move a blue highlight bar through the ballot. Once the voter moves the highlight bar onto their desired choice, they simply press the large button marked ENTER and the selection is marked. The box beside that choice is marked in red and the voter's selection becomes bold while all of the other choices fade into the background so the voter has a strong visual signal of their vote.
Reviewing the Ballot Choices
If the voter makes a mistake or changes their mind, all they have to do is change their selection. The eSlate will not let a voter cast too many votes in a race. After the voter has voted in the last contest on the ballot, a Ballot Summary screen will appear listing all the choices made and lets the voter know if they have missed voting in any race. From the Ballot Summary screen, the voter can make corrections, as needed. After reviewing and confirming the Ballot Summary screen, the voter presses the CAST BALLOT button to print the Voter Verifiable Paper Trail (VVPAT).
Comparing the Printed Record (VVAPT) and Paper Verification Screen
Once the printed record is displayed next to the Paper Verification Screen, the voter compares the ballot choices on the printed record to the ballot choices on the Paper Verification Screen. Visually impaired voters will have their ballot read back to them via the audio headset. The voter can choose to "Accept" the printed record and move to the next step or "Reject" the printed record and make changes in their ballot choices. Per California law, the voter is able to Reject their ballot two times before the machine will no longer accept any more changes being made.
Final Cast Ballot
Once the voter has verified all of the printed pages, they can press CAST BALLOT to finish voting. The screen informs the voter that they cannot go back after CAST BALLOT has been pressed. After pressing CAST BALLOT, voters will know they have finished voting when they see they waving American flag or hear "Your vote has been recorded" on the audio headset.
About the Company that makes the eSlate
Hart InterCivic (www.hartintercivic.com) is based in Austin, Texas and has been working with local and state governments in the information management sector since 1912. Hart is a leader in electronic voting and has received a number of awards and certifications in the election industry.
- Hart is the first (and only) company in the industry to attain ISO-9000-2000 quality system certification of its hardware and software processes.
- Hart is the first (and only) company in the industry to attain the BS7799 certification for its information systems security.
- The eSlate software was the first (and only) to be on file at the National Software Reference Library which gives election officials the opportunity to verify that the software used to conduct an election matches with the software on file at the library.
- Hart is the recipient of The Samaritan Center Ethics Business Award honoring those “good Samaritans” who practice the highest ethical principals in their daily business.