Election News

AVANTE is ready to provide any jurisdiction with “Ballot-On-Demand”; “Precinct-Based-Review-Ballot”; and “Precinct and/or Central Count Optical Scan” systems for Election Tracking.

AVANTE International Technology, Inc. was the first company to have its optical scan paper ballot system certified to the EAC 2002 VVSG (N-1-12-22-22-002). This patented (US 7,077,313) system provides the following unparalleled advantages:

Comparative Analysis on Performance of Different Optical Scan Systems
AVANTE OPTICAL VOTE-TRAKKER® Conventional Optical Systems
Accuracy
  • Tested accuracy to read ballots to exceed HAVA requirements with less than 1 error in 1,500,000 marks.
  • Not published. Many are known to be less accurate as required by HAVA.
Audit Capability
  • Captured digital ballot image (a picture of the ballot) as they are scanned as part of audit trail to prevent post election ballot tampering.
  • Not available.
Double Count Prevention
  • Optional machine authentication (machine readable random identifier) to prevent double counting.
  • Not available.
Fake Ballot Detection
  • Optional machine authentication (machine readable random identifier) to detect and reject faked ballots.
  • Not available.
Post Scan Assessment
  • Automatic assessment of light markings and erased markings for under-voted and over-voted ballots.
  • Not available.
Duplex Capability
  • Yes. Read multiple ballot sheets with ballots on both sides.
  • Yes. Read multiple ballot sheets with ballots on both sides.
Availability
  • Total commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to meet urgent delivery requirements within weeks of ordering.
  • Made to order.

 

AVANTE Ballot Marking Device has been proven to be reliable and easy to use in more than half of all New York State counties over the last two years. These proven and patented systems (US 6,892,944) provide the following unparalleled advantages:

  • Accessibility for voters voting with voice assistance, sip-and-puff and foot-paddle.
  • Accessibility for voters using alternative languages including:
    • Chinese-Mandarin, Chinese-Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, or, Filipino.
  • Print and mark duplex ballot-on-demand with 8.5”x11”; 8.5”x14” and 11”x17” standard 20-30 pound paper.
  • Unlimited number of ballot styles.
  • Meets all HAVA accessibility requirements.
  • Built primarily with COTS components to enable delivery within 45 days of order.

In addition to the individual component products and technological advantages, the AVANTE optical scan voting system also offers unparalleled security and cost effectiveness:

  • The AVANTE optical scan voting system solves some of the most critical security problems of faked and double counting of ballots using a machine-readable (to preserve voter privacy) random ballot identifier on each ballot.
  • AVANTE OPTICAL VOTE-TRAKKER® is the first to capture the digital ballot image to enable independent auditing against post election paper ballot tampering.
  • AVANTE system fully utilizes COTS components to enhance reliability and optimize cost effectiveness.

The following are the cost advantages of AVANTE Optical solutions:

Comparative Cost Analysis of Optical Solutions with and without Ballot-On-Demand
Costs Categories AVANTE Optical Solutions Conventional Optical Systems
Cost Per Ballot Sheet
  • $0.20
  • Based on 8.5”x14” (with duplex printing)
  • $0.90
  • Based on quotes from Ohio
  • Cost for Printing of 1,000,000 ballots (with or without Ballot-On-Demand capability)
  • $200,000 (If preprinted-Not recommended)
  • $100,000 (Based on 50% voter turnout and Ballot-On-Demand printing)
  • $900,000
  • Must be preprinted for 100% turnout. Cost may double if errors are found.
  • Optional Precinct Ballot-On-Demand station (Based on 8.5” width ballot)
  • $2,000 each
  • $4,000 for 2 systems at each polling location (each capable of printing any ballot styles as needed)
  • Not available.
  • Must preprint all ballot styles and manage picking the correct ballot style for individual voters.
Central Count System
  • $10,000 per system for reading 75 ballot sheets per minute.
    • 45,000 ballot sheets per 10 hr period for each system. Speed based on 8.5”x11” paper ballot sheet and reduces by a factor of 0.78 for 8.5”x14” or a factor of 0.65 for 11”x17” ballot sheet.
  • $65,000 per system for reading 300 ballot pages (approxximately 150 sheets) per minute.
  • OPTIONAL ADDITIONS:Precinct Ballot-Review Station (Based on 11” width ballot; review only; does not cast or tabulate votes)
  • End-of-day Precinct Count System (Same system switching to tabulation software @ 30 ballot sheets per minute)
  • $3,000 each (for 8.5” width ballot sheet)
  • $6,000 each (for 11” width ballot sheet)
    • Voters can review any ballot style.
    • The choices are highlighted on the digital image picture with alerts for over-voted and under-voted contests.
    • Jurisdiction can switch to tabulate the votes at the closing of poll with full view of all observers.
    • May be upgraded to standard Precinct-Based Optical VOTE-TRAKKER® with additional $1900.
  • 6,000 each. (Based on quotes from Ohio)
  • Can provide alerts to indicate any over-voted or under-voted contests.
  • All currently certified systems do not specify how many or which ones are over-voted or under-voted.
  • May have limitation on ballot styles.
Ballot-Marking Device
  • $5,500 each (For 8.5” width sheets)
  • Can be upgraded to provide 2007 VVSG “software independent verification” requirement for blind voters.
  • $5,500 each (For 8.5” width sheets)
  • 2007 VVSG “software independent verification” requirement for blind voters” option is unknown
Election Management Software System
  • $30,000-$90,000 depending on size of jurisdiction.
  • >$100,000 for typical jurisdiction.

 

AVANTE understands the need for many States and Counties to improve election integrity. We are ready to provide our proven and certified systems. AVANTE would like to work with any State Election Board and Secretary of State to have our system certified and to provide our system within 30-45 days upon placement of order.

For additional information, please visit:

Clarification of AVANTE’s position on Election and Voting System Integrity(Rev. A June 18, 2007)

In recent weeks, AVANTE found itself being cited as an unwilling participant of a national debate on voting system integrity[1][2][3][4]. In this paper, we will clarify and explain the company’s positions.

On the escrowing and disclosure of all source codes used in elections:

AVANTE entered into the voting business in 2000. We introduced the first voter-verified paper record for electronic voting systems in March 2001. Since then, it has been a long journey with limited success.

A main objective of AVANTE participating in the voting industry, besides business profitability, was to introduce a better voting system enhancing not only integrity and accuracy, but also the transparency of the process. For example, AVANTE pioneered electronic voting systems with a voter verified paper record that provides for one-to-one verification and authentication of each electronic ballot cast with a corresponding paper record.[5]

A key part of the criteria for transparency of the electronic voting process includes the transparency of the complete process and the availability of checks and balances in each critical step of the balloting process. One requirement is to make available for inspection all source code developed and under control of the system developer. AVANTE was always first to agree to provide source code to qualified third party reviewers along with providing it to State agencies and their designated independent evaluating parties.

The difficulty in source code escrow and disclosure is more related to the word “ALL” in State election codes and some new Federal election codes being proposed. It is made particularly more difficult when all voting systems must comply with the various accessibility requirements included in Federal election codes such as HAVA and Section 508.

This conclusion and interpretation is corroborated by some of the most respected election integrity proponents including Bev Harris[6] of “Black Box Voting” and open source proponents such as Alan Dechert[7] of “Open Source Consortium” where similar requirements are proposed in Holt’s Bill. Of course, the academics involved in election integrity basically all agree with the goals of disclosure, but also explain that the implementation can only be achieved over a period of several years.

The practical aspects of any complex electronic system being completely independent of any outside components is not impossible but very difficult and required substantial time, money and resources. It’s actually counter-productive if the intent is to ensure system integrity, accuracy, and transparency. After all, the execution codes (not the source codes) are what are actually installed in the system to carry out the voting functions. ALL execution codes are placed in escrow and are protected with SHA-1 hash code that is required for all election systems. Source codes make writing the machine-execution codes faster and easier to understand but are not the functional part of the system. An experienced programmer can modify the execution code without modifying the source code.

Providing voting accessibility such as multiple languages in both displayable and voice-assisted formats anytime is one of many challenges for an election solution.  If one were to provide an “independent” reading back of the paper records or marked ballots, the only possibility is to use third party synthesized voices that require another few years of development time and would definitely end with inferior systems when finished. Those that have tried Microsoft’s speech engines will agree that doing it well in English is not all that easy let alone in other alternate languages.

When a vendor develops its system based on an open source operating system such as Linux, it may be possible to provide more of the required source codes of the overall voting system. But if one dares to be true to stated election codes, it is currently not possible to provide 100% of ALL source codes. This is not possible for DRE with or without voter-verified paper records. It is equally impossible for optical scan systems or ballot marking devices.[8]

Of course, there may be a chance that the New York State legislature may have the same intent, as do other states, that what is really required is “ALL” of the source codes developed by the voting system providers but not “ALL” of the source codes from third parties.

On AVANTE’s willingness to serve New York State with a good voting system that meets the New York State Election Codes of Source Code Escrow

As a NJ company, we have received more business and have had more success in New York State than in NJ. More than half of NY State used AVANTE ballot marking devices with outstanding success in 2006.[9] We were and are grateful for the opportunity to serve New York State. Where possible, AVANTE will jump through any barriers to provide all source codes within the company’s control.

AVANTE was the first to initiate talks with Microsoft to provide their source code. We have also worked with all other component providers to make source code available. However, even if Microsoft agrees to provide source code beyond their current approach of online inspection, all of the voting companies will be far from achieving even 50% of all source code. Vendors would have to find all compilers’ source codes. If Intel and AMD processors have embedded codes in their microprocessor that are not open, we will have to get them. There are a host of other embedded components mentioned by Bev Harris and Alan Dechert as well.

We understand that some activists in New York State are pro optical scan systems. However, they are incorect to believe optical scan system manufacturers have made all of their source codes available. Some Japanese microprocessors and other embedded components may have source codes that are difficult to get as well. The New York Election Codes require all source codes that cover not only the scanner unit but also the election management systems that generate, print, tabulate as well as consolidate complex ballots. Here, almost every system in the market today uses Microsoft operating systems and SQL-Server databases.

For the optical scan system to be a viable solution, it must couple with a “ballot marking device” solution. Some may think that the Windows CE operating system, which many optical systems use, is open source and thus enables some of the current ballot-marking devices to meet escrow requirements. But, Windows CE being open source is far from being true. Microsoft has only agreed to make part of the operating system source codes available, NOT ALL.[10]

AVANTE has made and explained the same points to the elected officials and legislature of NY State. We made these points out of deep respect by being truthful. There is no intent to slight the State Election Codes. If any of the statements made by some staff members caused confusion, we apologize for this misunderstanding.

On the issue of paper ballot vs DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) with VVPR (Voter Verified Paper Record) for New York State

AVANTE has long taken the position that DREs with a properly engineered VVPR is the best voting solution for the United States on the basis of meeting all of the requirements.  The DRE with a properly engineered VVPR is the only method that can help to eliminate voter errors.

The caveat is that the DRE and VVPR must be properly engineered so that commonly observed errors and privacy concerns are not introduced. We believe the dramatic failures of some of the DREs with VVPR have nothing to do with the concept of the system but everything to do with problems in engineering and design. We have published several white papers with this opinion.[11][12]

AVANTE knows that its position is not the same as some of the activist groups. It is particularly true on the virtue of DREs with VVPR vs Precinct-based Optical Scan voting solutions. In many ways, the “devils” or potential problems of DRE with VVPR are well known and have been studied over the last few years. They have been addressed in election codes as well as in certification requirements.

However, one cannot say the same of optical scan systems. The “devils” and problems of paper ballot tampering were known decades ago when New York and New Jersey changed from paper balloting to the current direct recording mechanical lever voting systems.[13] While the problems have been forgotten, the current optical scan system and relevant processes have not been improved over the last twenty or more years.