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eSlate Voting System

About the eSlate Voting System

During early voting and on election day, Travis County voters cast their ballots using touch-button eSlate voting units. The eSlate is easy to use even if you have never touched a computer before. The voter uses a rotary wheel to move through the ballot and an ENTER button to mark his or her vote. Each early voting location provides an eSlate demo unit for voters who would like to practice before casting their ballot.

The eSlate allows voters to vote straight party and for certified write-in candidates. Voters can select their ballot in either English or Spanish and can use the headphones to hear the ballot read in either language. The eSlate provides total privacy for voters with disabilities, including those who are visually or mobility-impaired, and can accommodate breath control “sip and puff” devices.

By providing the eSlate system, Travis County Elections complies with the 2000 Help America Vote Act which calls for counties to provide a voting system that is “accessible for individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.”

In 1998, the Travis County Clerk convened a community-based study group to evaluate new voting systems. The entire Elections Study Group Report PDF is available on this web site. In 2001, following the recommendations of the Elections Study Group, Travis County Commissioners Court voted to adopt the eSlate voting system. During early voting in November 2002, Travis County voters had the first opportunity to cast their ballot on the eSlate units. During the following six elections, from May 2003 through May 2004, Travis County voters have cast their ballots both during early voting and on election day using the eSlate units.

In keeping with her policy of open, transparent elections, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir convened a Citizens Oversight Committee during the November 2004 election period to offer observations, advice, and counsel to her on any matter that they believe could improve the elections process in Travis County.

The eSlate system, produced by Austin-based Hart Intercivic, does not face the same issues that affect other systems. Some distinct features of the eSlate include:

  • Touch-button method not touch screen, therefore avoiding calibration errors,
  • No external communication pathways, it is not connected to the Internet or an intranet,
  • Utilizes triple redundancy of data storage,
  • Captures an image of each ballot cast so that electronic or manual recounts can be conducted.

The eSlate units are linked in the polling place to a Judge’s Booth Controller (JBC). The JBC issues a randomly generated access code so that the voter can access the proper ballot for their precinct on the eSlate. Votes are stored in the eSlate, in the JBC and on a flash card inside the JBC. After the close of polls, a stand-alone tabulation computer at the Central Counting Station reads the JBC card to tally returns. Before official final returns are reported, all data that resides on each eSlate and JBC is backed-up for long-term storage and comparisons of voter counts from these sources and the flash cards are matched for verification.

A range of security procedures are practiced to ensure that every vote cast in Travis County is accurately recorded and tallied. Some of Travis County’s security procedures include:

  • Manual logic and accuracy testing preformed publicly before Early Voting and Election Day,
  • Manual paper auditing of precinct level tally against the precinct results from tabulation,
  • Signature verification of daily Early Voting records and after Election Day, and
  • Ballot programming performed by Travis County, not sent to the vendor.

Please email concerns to election@traviscountytx.gov or write us at P.O. Box 149325, Austin, TX, 78714-93225.

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