Lincoln County voters to cast ballots on new equipment utilizing modernized system

For the Tomahawk Leader

LINCOLN COUNTY – Lincoln County voters will soon cast ballots on new equipment utilizing a modernized voting system.

A release from the Lincoln County Clerk’s Office said the Lincoln County Election Equipment Evaluation Team, consisting of county and municipal election officials, chose to remain with the county’s current election equipment vendor, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) after a comprehensive review of available systems certified by the State of Wisconsin’s Election Commission.

“The Evaluation Team determined that the ES&S system provides a fully-auditable voting solution that is accurate, secure and accessible to all voters,” the release stated. “Just as importantly, the equipment is easy for both poll workers and election officials to navigate and manage.”

Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe said he led the process to determine the best possible scenario for replacing the county’s aging AutoMark machines, which served the county’s accessible voting equipment needs since 2008.

“I provided the resources the Evaluation Team needed to make an educated decision on what best fits our local election needs and budgets here in Lincoln County,” Marlowe stated. “I, in fact, left the final decision to our town officials. They unanimously decided to stick with our current vendor, whom they felt provided the top product.”

Marlowe noted that the decision to remain with ES&S will “simplify the transition for our voters and election officials.”

The release said the new system “uses a variety of functions to ensure election information and cast vote records are secure.”

According to the release, the new system includes ExpressVote, a universal voting system uses touch-screen technology to produce a paper ballot, allowing voters to review their selections and verify that their vote was recorded accurately before submitting for tabulation.

“The fully auditable ExpressVote eliminates marginal marks and the need for interpretation of the voter’s intent,” the release stated. “Votes can be cast using the touch screen, a detachable UVC keyboard or with ADA support peripherals, such as a sip and puff device.”

Also featured in the new system is DS200, a poll place scanner and tabulator that includes physical security features to secure sensitive components and election files.

The release said the DS200 operating system controls, limits and detects unauthorized access to all critical data and includes safeguards that help protect sensitive data and verify authenticity.

Lincoln County’s DS200s have been in service since 2010.

“The DS200 did need an upgrade to its operating system to allow the machine to be compatible with the ExpressVote,” the release said, noting that the DS200 machines “will be very familiar to our voters, but the screen itself will appear different and perhaps more modern. “

The release said the new system replaces the outdated AutoMark, which used Windows 7 for its operating system. Microsoft announced last year that it would no longer support the outdated Windows 7 platform.

“Microsoft ultimately doomed the AutoMark’s fate, deeming its operating system obsolete,” Marlowe stated. “This forced the county to replace the equipment. We went in open-minded, viewing this as an opportunity to do a deep dive into all the voting systems available to our voters here in Wisconsin. After reviewing the other vendors and the systems they sell, we determined we already had the best available tabulator and would not have to replace them at this time. This also made the addition of the ExpressVote the most cost effective solution. We feel good about our decision and are looking forward to the public’s response after the April 2 Election.”

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