Mail Voting Solution

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AVANTE’s central count and precinct-based optical scanning electronic systems have patented ballot picture imaging and ballot authenticating capabilities capable of providing electronic auditsavante-pbos-bar-fitted

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AVANTE OPTICAL-VOTE-TRAKKER® is also the first to provide automatic rank-choice voting to facilitate instant run-off election. Paper ballots and electronic ballots are generated at the same time within the same EMS (Election Management System) that allows voters to rank all candidates in accordance to their preference. The software automatically performs the “run-off” instantly as part of the tabulation of votes.

AVANTE’S CENTRAL COUNT OPTICAL VOTE-TRAKKER® was the first system certified to the Federal 2002 Voting Systems Standard for its accuracy and versatility.

It is also the first verifiable voting system with end-to-end auditibility.

(US Patents: 7,635,088; 7,635,087; 7,614,553; 6,892,944; 7,036,730; 7,077,313; 7,422,150; 7,431,209; 6,973,581; 7,197,167; and pending patents: 11/709,449; and others)

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Details of this end-to-end auditable election solution and system with various configurations follow:

Throughput Rates
Is the system flexible and scalable? A typical configuration could include 20 or more scanner systems capable of scanning 50-ballot pages per minute linked to a central server. Following are some basics:

  • With the example above, the full system capacity is 20 scanners x 50 ballot pages per minute x 60 minutes x 10 hours or 600,000 double-sided ballot pages per 10-hour day for ballot pages 11” long. For 12” long pages, the capacity is proportionally reduced to 550,000 double-sided ballot pages.
  • Theoretically, if required, the system could scan as many as 1,100,000 to 1,200,000 double-sided ballot pages per 20-hour day.
  • AVANTE has verified the speed of each scanner system but hasn’t deployed anything larger than a 2 scanner-system configuration. AVANTE will authenticate the warranty on capacity with the networked configurations.
  • The ballots can be pre-scanned without tabulating the results.
  • The tabulation can wait until the end of the election day.
  • The tabulation time is estimated to be less than 2 minutes.
Does the scanning rate differ for different size ballots? The basic scanning rate is determined by the paper transport mechanism:

  • The basic rate for Canon Model DR5010C (DR5020) is 50 double-sided pages per minute based on standard 8.5”x11” paper.
  • The same scanner will handle 40 pages 8.5”x14” per minute.
  • The same scanner will handle 32 pages 11”x17” per minute.
  • These rates can be approximately doubled with Model DR9080C scanning 90 double-sided ballot pages per minute.
What is the required hardware configuration to achieve different scanning rates?
  • Each double-sided ballot page scanned at 200 dpi produces a ballot image of approximately 500Kb.
  • Each computer linked to a scanner unit must have the capacity to store the ballot images. If one assumes 10 systems to manage 1 million double-sided ballot pages, the memory requirement for each local client computer working with each scanner (500kb X 100,000 images) would be 50Gb of memory space.
  • AVANTE equips each client computer with at least 200 Giga-bytes of hard disk space allowing for redundant storage.
  • Each system is furnished with a DVD/CD-R writer for retention of the ballot images for security, daily backup and management.
  • The CPU requirement is not particularly high. AVANTE configures the CPU at minimum clock speed of 1.6 GHz.
  • The RAM requirement is particularly high. AVANTE provides 1 Giga-byte RAM.
How can the system be configured to handle a million ballots on election day?
  • The AVANTE system configured above has the capability of pre-processing all of the ballots and performing the tabulation and consolidation at the end of the election day.
  • AVANTE configures a quad dual-processor server system with a minimum clock speed of 2 GHz and more than 4Giga-Bytes of RAM to tabulate the ballots in about 2 minutes.
  • The system has been configured for the processing of ballot images and local tabulation before performing central server consolidation.
  • When properly managed, the tabulation consolidation can be done within seconds of initiation.
System Security
What are the system’s security features? Following are some of the patented AVANTE solutions (US 6,892,944 and 7,077,313) protecting the integrity of mail-in ballots.

How does one prevent faked, counterfeit, or copied ballots from being counted?

  • The AVANTE optical ballot solution uses imaging technology along with an OPTIONAL machine-readable barcode and unique, randomly generated ballot identifiers (BID) for ballot authentication. This BID not only identifies the ballot style for proper reading and deciphering, but also contains a unique random identifier for ballot authentication. Since the numbers are random, ballots cannot be faked or copied.
  • If this optional function is used, only ballots that are generated and mailed out by the jurisdiction can be counted. Ballot identifiers will be recorded in a jurisdiction database for proper authentication. Ballots will be scanned and the BIDs recorded when mailed to potential voters.
  • Having different employees handling the printing and mailing processes provides another level of security.
  • Mailed ballots with BIDs must not link to the envelope identifier to ensure the privacy of the voters. The BID on the ballot also prevents any possibility of accidental or intentional double counting.

Preventing voter’s ballots from tampering before, during, and after being counted:

  • The patented AVANTE optical ballot image solution provides means to deter ballot tampering after being scanned. A “picture” of the ballot image is captured.
  • Any ballots with over-voted, under-voted, and write-in contests will be automatically “pulled” for human inspection when necessary.
  • The system automatically allows a “voter intent” survey by providing “revised” tallies (without a second scanning) when adjusting the “Yes/No” threshold from the standard mark reading (50%) to a lower threshold (25%). This will help determine whether any votes were not counted because of lighter marks. In addition, the threshold can be set at higher mark reading level (75%) to determine whether any ballots were treated as over-voted because of erasure marks or other accidental light markings.
  • The original paper ballots can be immediately placed under lock-and-seal not needing to be handled again unless there are any challenges.
  • Traditional problems with paper ballot tampering can be reduced or eliminated while using ballot imaging solutions, proper chain-of-custody, public viewing, and video recording of the ballot scanning process.

System and user level security management:

  • AVANTE uses the Microsoft Windows 2000 professional operating system and SQL-Server database for our optical solution providing role-based access management of the systems.
  • Both the database and operating system require both user names and passwords to gain access.
  • All tallies and ballot data are bound with a hash code.
  • All data that transfers is encrypted.
  • The system software components are checked for authenticity by hash code controls meeting the EAC 2005 VVSG requirements.
  • AVANTE recommends segregation of functions as much as possible. The following functions should be handled by different employees:
    • Ballot generation along with BID (if used).
    • Ballot Printing.
    • Ballot mailing.
    • Receiving and authentication of returned ballots.
    • Ballot Scanning.
    • Ballot lock-and-seal and archiving.
    • Results tabulation and consolidation.

Additional Access Management with the use of biometric signatures:

  • AVANTE recommends additionally the use of a biometric log-on with one of the following:
    • Biometric digitized signature (AVANTE patented technology, US)
    • Biometric fingerprint scanning.
    • Other biometric log-on options as deemed desirable by the County.
  • AVANTE also recommends the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) for physical access and video monitoring:
    • Active/passive RFID technology allows automatic documentation and 24/7 monitoring of any physical access and the actual duration.
    • 24/7 Video monitoring of critical operations and ballot control.
Ballot Sorting
How are the ballots sorted?
  • AVANTE patented technology allows easy ballot management without any pre-sorting.
  • Each paper ballot is printed with a ballot identifier that identifies that particular template when each ballot is scanned.
  • The system can also be programmed to stop for ballots that may not be readable, write-ins, over-voted contests and under-voted contests. These options are not necessarily recommended. Instead use the ballot images of questioned ballots for manual deciphering.
How does the machine sort ballots that for one reason or another will not tabulate? There are two options for handling exceptions.

  • The system can stop if there is a ballot that cannot be read.
  • The system can continue if there are ballots that cannot be read. The problem ballots are imaged and can be retrieved for manual inspection.
  • Through the extensive ballot management capability, all normal ballots, even when wrinkled or having extensive shrinkage or expansion due to moisture, can be read. The system is automatically scaled to accommodate various paper ballot sizes.
  • Only torn or damaged ballots (with missing marks) will be treated as exceptions for manual inspection.
How are ballots treated once tabulated?
  • All ballot images that are not tabulated will be presented for manual deciphering and disposition.
  • All ballot images with over-voted contests, under-voted contests and write-ins will be tabulated and placed in a special file for manual inspection.
Report Writing
What reports are available after tabulation and consolidation?
  • Consolidated tallies and individual tallies can be exported into other reporting applications.
  • Standard report building tools such as Crystal Reports work well.
  • Depending on database requirements we can provide data to export XML and other standard data formats
  • Exported will be encrypted.
  • Tallies can be exported in batches by day or other optional groupings.

AVANTE patented verifiable voting solutions with proven accuracy are configured with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware of computers, printers, and document imaging scanners with flexibility to accommodate election and voting methods of:

These patented solutions are developed and proven with the most stringent accuracy and integrity requirements in mind to accommodate the spectrum of complex elections in USA, South America and others as well as more common and simpler parliamentary and presidential elections in Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia.

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