When Madison County voters cast their ballots in the local elections on May 6, 2017, they’ll be using the most advanced voting system certified for elections in the U.S.
The Verity® Voting system from Hart InterCivic, having undergone rigorous testing at both the federal and state levels, now provides a new electronic voting option for Texas jurisdictions. Verity’s electronic voting device, Touch, will replace Madison County’s aging first-generation electronic system from Hart. Touch is the only new electronic voting device certified for use in Texas. It will allow the county to continue to offer its voters the convenience of Vote Centers, which require electronic voting.
Maintaining the superior customer service and mutually beneficial partnership they have had with Hart for more than a decade made Verity the obvious choice in Madison County, according to Elections Administrator Earl Parker.
“We are extremely pleased with Hart’s customer service,” Parker said. “I’ve been in this office for nine years, and they have never disappointed. Support is one of our main reasons for sticking with Hart. If we have a question, they have an answer. Or, if they don’t, they get it right away.”
Parker said he’s also looking forward to moving to the easy-to-use touchscreen technology in Madison County.
“It seems to be designed to make voting more straightforward, and I think it will be easier for our poll workers to learn,” he said. “I’m eager to be getting out front with this new technology. I’ve always been concerned about equipment and software becoming obsolete.”
Phillip Braithwaite, president and CEO of Hart InterCivic, said he’s not surprised to see Madison County moving quickly into the next generation of voting technology.
“We are proud to help get them there,” he said. “The county’s forward-looking leadership positions them among the very first in Texas to move up to Verity. In fact, the first shipment of equipment is scheduled for delivery this week.”
Madison County decision-makers were especially impressed by four particular features of Verity Touch that will improve the experiences of voters and poll workers: the modern and intuitive touchscreen, the compact size and light weight of the devices, the voter convenience features, and the accessible independence the system provides for all voters in a variety of scenarios.
The Verity touchscreen replaces a dial and button system and will be quicker and easier for voters. Because it uses the latest touchscreen technology, Verity avoids the calibration concerns that plagued first-generation touchscreen voting machines. The 28-pound devices are enclosed in compact and self-contained briefcases for efficient transportation and storage. Voters can switch between available ballot languages at any point in the voting process, adjust the font size and/or contrast on the screen, and control both the speed and the volume of the audio if they are using the headphones. To serve voters who cannot enter the polling place due to physical disabilities, poll workers need only turn a key and lift out the 6 pound, ruggedized tablet from its base to carry it outside; there are no fasteners to disconnect and then reconnect, no cables to control, no attachment points to manage.
Madison County poll workers will continue to enjoy the enormous benefits of Hart’s unique controller-model voting system, which can connect up to 12 voting terminals for central management from a single console. Since all of the cast vote records from all of the voting terminals in each particular polling place are consolidated in real time in the Verity Controller, poll workers will only close polls on one device at the end of the day and run one set of reports, with no need to extract data from every device separately. And with only one data storage medium per polling place to read into the tabulation computer at the elections office, election night results reporting is fast.
Madison County’s election office staff will also realize some dramatic increases in efficiency with the new system. The time-consuming process of clearing off the old election data from each machine before each new election is completely automated in the new system, as are all of the data backup procedures for the devices after each election. Warehouse labor is therefore greatly reduced with Verity.
“Texas election officials are taking notice of the newest Verity enhancements,” Braithwaite said. “This all-new, integrated system accommodates any voting style from a unified platform.”