Officials in six Iowa counties including Buena Vista have announced they will partner with Election Systems & Software, Inc. to upgrade their current voting systems with optical scanning technology.
Buena Vista County will use optical scan ballot tabulators and the new AutoMARK system, which enables disabled voters to mark optical scan ballots privately and independently.
The six counties, representing a total of 147,493 Iowa registered voters, purchased the equipment as part of a statewide effort to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. The law provides federal funding to replace outdated voting systems with new technology and to offer greater accessibility opportunities for disabled voters.
"We are to be among the first counties in the state to purchase new equipment that enables us to meet the mandates of HAVA. This new technology will make it easier than ever for our voters to cast a ballot," said Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill. "More importantly, we will now have the ability to provide all voters with disabilities the opportunity to vote in private without assistance, using the same optical ballot that everyone uses."
Aldo Tesi, President & CEO of ES&S, said that the six counties are just a beginning, and that the company expects its technology to be used widely across Iowa as a more counties select new voting systems leading up to the HAVA deadline.
The ES&S Model 100 is a precinct-based, voter-activated optical scan ballot counter and vote tabulator that has been used in thousands of actual elections nationwide. It ensures ballot integrity by alerting voters to over-voted and under-voted races and blank ballots. Immediately upon poll closing, the internal thermal printer legibly prints out vote totals and enables election officials to transmit results to local, county, and state election administrators.
"The Board of Supervisors is happy to continue our relationship with ES&S utilizing the technology that our voters have been accustomed to and that has served our needs well. The integrity of an election is paramount, and our voters like the paper ballot," said Karen Strawn, Buena Vista County Commissioner of Elections.