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Voting Equipment Update for Clerks

Posted in
Information Only
August 21, 2013
Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission
Michael Haas, Elections Division Administrator
Sherri Ann Charleston, Voting Equipment Elections Specialist
2013.8.20 Clerk Communication Voting Equipment Update.pdf63.48 KB
2013 8 19 3401 ES&S Conditional Approval and Certification Letter.pdf69.6 KB
2013.8.21 GEMS 1 18 24D ECO Letter of Approval.pdf59.04 KB

Following is an update regarding several voting equipment matters that the Board and its staff have completed recently or are currently working on.  The Board has granted conditional approval for the ES&S Unity system and also authorized the staff to explore development of a pilot program for using the Prime III system at the 2014 spring elections.  Director Kennedy has also approved an application from Dominion Voting to update its GEMS software, and Board staff is working to complete testing of an update to Dominion’s Root SSL certificates for BallotStation 4.6.4D.

ES&S Unity

At the August 13, 2013 meeting of the Government Accountability Board, the Board granted conditional approval for ES&S’ Unity system, which supports modeming of unofficial results from the polling place to a central server.  This conditional approval will allow for counties and municipalities to use this system for the Spring 2014 elections, and based on the results, enable the Board to determine whether there is sufficient basis to grant full approval.  

Unity is a modification to the Unity (EAC#ESSUnity3400).  The modification provides support for landline modeming of unofficial results from the DS200 tabulator to a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) server.  This function enables jurisdictions to modem unofficial results from a polling place to a central location, where the unofficial results are aggregated by use of election management software on election night.  The modem function does not affect tabulation or reporting of official election results.  In addition to the modeming capability, ES&S modified the Hardware Programming Manager (HPM) and Election Reporting Manager (ERM) applications to support the addition of modem functionality.  All modifications of the system were tested to the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) by Wyle Laboratories; however the system as a whole is only compliant to the 2002 Voting System Standards (VSS).

Unity currently lacks federal certification and is not expected to receive it because ES&S has withdrawn the system from the United States Election Assistance Commission (U.S. EAC) certification program.  At the Board’s March 20, 2013 meeting, despite the fact that the Unity had not received federal certification, ES&S requested that the Board consider conducting functional testing and certification of the Unity  The Board exercised authority per Wis. Adm. Code 7.03(5), according to which, for good cause shown, the Board may exempt any electronic voting system from strict compliance with Wis. Adm. Code Ch. 7.  The Board subsequently directed staff to establish protocols that will be used as guidelines for evaluating future (and concurrent) applications for approval of non-U.S. EAC certified voting systems, where the underlying voting system received U.S. EAC certification to either the 2002 VVS or 2005 VVSG, but any additional modeming component does not meet the 2005 VVSG.    

G.A.B. staff tested and the Board conditionally approved the following hardware versions for the ES&S Unity

See attached document above (2013.8.20 Clerk Communication Voting Equipment Update.pdf) for table

G.A.B. staff conducted testing of the modem in four counties:  Brown, Marathon, Dane, and Rock, from  July 9 to July 18, 2013.  Four municipalities served as testing locations in each of the four counties.  Based on the Voting System Testing Laboratory (VSTL) report provided by Wyle Laboratories and on Board staff’s own functional testing of this equipment, the Board granted conditional approval of ES&S Unity for sale and use in Wisconsin.  The Board will subsequently determine whether to grant final approval after the Board has determined that a) the purchasing locality has (with guidance from G.A.B. staff) conducted acceptance testing to assure the system meets their needs and is identical to the certified system; b) the purchasing locality has performed a functional test as part of the procurement process for the voting system; and c) the system has successfully been used in test elections during both the 2014 Spring Primary and Spring Election.  

Based on the results of the acceptance test, the functional test, the test election, and any other credible information regarding the system’s performance in its possession, the Board will determine whether the proposed voting system will be approved for use in the State of Wisconsin and so notify the vendor.  The Board also approved continuing conditions of use for municipalities that would purchase the Unity after its final approval.  G.A.B. staff will provide an interim report at the March 2014 Board meeting and a full report for the Board’s consideration at the May 2014 Board meeting.  If the Board does not grant final approval, ES&S shall remove all modems and associated firmware from the DS200’s, rendering the modem functionality inoperable and effectively reverting the ES&S Unity to the previously approved Unity

Subsequent to receiving the Board’s conditional approval, ES&S indicated that they would submit an Application for a Modification to a previously approved system for eleven engineering changes to the DS200.  Staff will have to review that application and make a recommendation to Director and General Counsel Kennedy.  ES&S may not deliver DS200s bearing the engineering changes prior to receiving approval from the G.A.B.  

Dominion Voting Updated Digital Certificate for Dominion GEMS1.18.24 software and BallotStation 4.6.4D

Dominion Voting has submitted an application for an update to both GEMS and BallotStation software, which will apply to the Client SSL certificate for GEMS 1.18.24D, which expired on July 3, 2013, and the Root SSL certificates for BallotStation 4.6.4D which will expire January 28, 2014.  

Director and General Counsel Kevin J. Kennedy has approved Dominion Voting’s request for Approval of a Modification to a Voting System, which will apply to the Client SSL certificate for GEMS 1.18.24D.  This solution will allow jurisdictions to upload and download between GEMS and their touchscreens units after the Client SSL certificates expired on July 3, 2013.  

The Root SSL certificates expire on January 28, 2014.  After the Root SSL certificates expire, a new version of the application software (i.e., GEMS 1.18.24D, BallotStation 4.6.4D) will have to be installed.  Because the root certificates apply to a system that the G.A.B. has not approved for sale or use in Wisconsin, G.A.B. staff will need to conduct testing of the BallotStation 4.6.4D according to Administrative Code Chapter 7.  G.A.B. staff has already communicated with Dominion regarding the BallotStation 4.6.4D and would like to schedule that testing for some time in September, presenting subsequent recommendations to the Board at the October Board meeting.  However, our ability to complete testing relies on the availability of Dominion representatives as well as clerks to participate in the process.

Prime III Voting System

The Board has also authorized staff to pursue development of a pilot program of the Prime III, a new hardware-agnostic open source voting system.  This system was developed through federal grants from the U.S. EAC and is designed to be a next-generation voting system with advancements in several areas including accessibility, security, usability, and privacy.  Staff will seek to implement a pilot use of the Prime III at the 2014 Spring Election and the G.A.B. is currently seeking counties or municipalities that would be interested in joining the pilot program.  Any election official interested in participating in the pilot should contact Voting Equipment Elections Specialist Sherri Ann Charleston at or (608) 267-0714.