King County Elections Replaces Tabulation System

We replaced our tabulation and processing equipment with a new system that better serves the County’s growing voter population (nearly 1.3 million registered voters and counting!) We’ll start using the new software to process the August 1 Primary Election.

So, why are we updating our elections equipment now? It’s mainly because the old system was nearly 10-years-old and approaching the end of its useful life. With King County’s ever-increasing voter population, the system was frequently bumping up against its capacity, which could create slowdowns and delays in results processing.

Janice Case, Elections Services Manager, demonstrates the new accessible voting units to a television reporter.

The new system consists of user-friendly accessible voting units, high-speed scanners and an improved system to correct ballots with irregularities. Ballots will be processed more efficiently, with fewer requiring special handling. The upgraded system will produce faster results and count more votes on Election Night.

The new accessible voting units allow a voter to mark their ballot on an intuitive user-interface. Voters can use the touchscreen option or other assistive technology device. Once the voter has completed the ballot marking process, they will print the machine-marked ballot and place it in a ballot drop box.

Jerelyn_Scanners_Stakeholders Group
Jerelyn Hampton, Elections Supervisor, demonstrates the new, high-speed scanners to members of the Citizens’ Elections Oversight Committee, Disability Advisory Committee and elections staff from Pierce County.

The new scanners come in two types: smaller units that can each scan up to 5,400 ballots per hour and two larger units that scan up to 12,000 ballots per hour for two-sided, 18-inch ballots. Fun fact: the larger scanners are also used by the U.S. Census Bureau. All of the scanners can easily tell which ballots have been scanned, resulting in fewer paper jams. And they can process ballots in nearly any physical condition such as water damaged or wrinkly.

The software used to correct ballots with irregularities (such two votes cast for one race or corrections made by the voter) is also improved. The new software allows us to see exactly how each oval was counted and shows the least confident votes and non-votes for added quality assurance.

King County Elections selected Boston-based Clear Ballot as the vendor of the new tabulation system after a competitive bidding process earlier this year.