Prior to the election, the tabulator is zeroed, a printout is created. A predetermined and specific set of ballots is created. This test set is run through the machine. A printout is created. After the election the tabulator is again zeroed, and the test dataset is again run through the machine, a printout is again created. The results before and after the election must match in all respects.
A key fob, similar to those used in cars, is required to do any admin functions on the tabulator. In addition there are multiple security passwords required to access different functions. During the election the key fob is carried by the tabulator DRO at all times, ensuring that no one else can alter the tabulator.
On election day the tabulator is set upon a large ballot box. Once the ballot is read by the tabulator, the ballot automatically drops into the box. The ballot box uses adhesive seals signed by the tabulator DRO and witnessed by the supervisor DRO. The tabulator output is sealed to the ballot box by the tabulator DRO and signed with a seal. This allows ballots to only enter the tabulator and drop down into the ballot box.
Election Day performance
The tabulator ran fairly smoothly and without issue for 12 hours the poll was open. After reading a ballot the tabulator requires 1-2 seconds until available for subsequent votes. This delay adds up when there is a long line of voters.
How Easy is the Tabulator to use?
Once set up and the poll is open, feeding in ballots is quite easy. In fact almost anyone can do it, but under supervision. There can often be misread or rejected ballots. I tested the tabulator’s ease of use with old and young people, all without issue. The tabulator, however, is not ready for general public use without supervision.
There is considerably more training and tech involved with this tabulator, but in the interest of faster results on election night, it was well worth the investment. As with all tech there is always something that can go wrong, so backup processes are required. I hope that in the future the Federal election will use similar machines. At the end of a long 13 hr day, election workers are dead tired and can make mistakes.
-I had thought that because the tabulator only takes an “X” using a Sharpie on the ballot, that there would be many mismarked and spoiled ballots. Zeroes, check marks, and other non “X” marks are rejected by the tabulator. In my poll, there was surprisingly very few that had to be redone. Maybe this was a concern of mine that was unfounded.
-Remember to ask voters if they wrote an “X” in their ballot. Some older people actually forget to make their mark, then the tabulator DRO reads it into the machine, and hte vote is cast.