Before we get much further into the November election I’d like to take a moment to discuss security of the electronic voting equipment used by Victoria County. There is some misinformation being bantered about voting machines. Much of this is half truths or blatant exaggerations of issues surrounding voting. The simple fact is electronic voting is a safe, secure and accurate means of conducting voting.

Every voting system used in Texas must first be certified by an approved, national testing laboratory to operate only in the manner prescribed by federal guidelines. As part of this process all programming code related to the system is reviewed and tested for compliance. In addition to the national level of testing, Texas also requires a state review prior to certification for use in Texas. The Texas process looks further into the firmware, software and hardware used by the voting system to insure the system operates properly under Texas laws and guidelines for voting systems. Only when a voting system has passed both certifications may it be used in Texas elections.

Programming for an election begins with candidates and or measures placed on a ballot. Then testing of the equipment is conducted to insure votes are tabulated correctly. No outside company prepares the testing ballots; the test decks are prepared locally and run through the equipment to assure accurate totals in all races and measures. If there is any problem in the first test, the programs are corrected and the tests are run again and only after an accurate report is created is the programming approved.

Each voting terminal has two internal memory storage areas and one removable compact flash card which hold the voting record for that terminal. As votes are cast the vote is saved to these memory areas and compared for exact matching of the votes in each memory. The removable compact flash card cannot be changed once an election begins. It contains a unique serial number which is read into the terminal when it is opened for voting. The terminal will not accept a replacement card.

Security seals are placed on each terminal to detect tampering. These seals are checked before the terminal is used, during voting, and when the terminal is closed at the end of voting. Should a security breach be found, the terminal would be set aside and the votes counted only after an investigation found no tampering with the votes cast.

Prior to each election the terminals are cleared of all previous votes. A Logic & Accuracy Test specific to the election is performed to check proper operation and the terminal is sealed to detect tampering. This testing is open to the public and notice is printed in the paper prior to testing.

On opening the equipment for voting a report is run to insure no votes are cast on the machine prior to voting. During the day only qualified voters are allowed access to the voting booth. The activation units at each polling place are unique to that location and can not be used at another location. At the end of voting the votes are gathered for tabulation and seals are placed on the terminals to prevent un-authorized access. The total number of votes cast on the machines must equal the total number of names on the poll list.