The ES&S DS200 is a ballot scanning device. It is used in jurisdictions in which voters hand mark paper ballots and/or use ballot marking devices then hand-feed their paper ballots into a scanner. Ballots can be inserted into the DS200 in multiple orientations: face up, face down, header first, or footer first. The device simultaneously scans the front and back of a paper ballot, interprets voter marks, and communicates any issues that require the voter’s attention back to the voter through an LCD display. If the voter has marked too many choices in a race, the display alerts the voter and offers the option to return the ballot for correction.
The DS200 scanner can also scan and tabulate the summary cards (or “ballot cards”) printed by ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking devices (BMDs). ExpressVote-produced ballots print a paper “summary card” of the voter’s choices with a barcode that encodes the voter choices. When the paper record is hand-fed into the DS200 scanner, it scans the barcode to interpret voter choices and record votes.
Because the DS200 device is a scanning device only, and does not have features that support marking choices on ballots, features that may be helpful to voters with disabilities are limited; the DS200 is not marketed as an “accessible voting device.” It does not have an audio-tactile controller and its audio features are limited to only making different sounds as ballots are scanned or returned to the voter when marks require additional attention.
After the voter inserts their paper ballot (or summary card) into the DS200 scanner, they have a chance to review any potential mismarks that require attention. After the voter cast their ballot, the DS200 scanner pulls the ballot through a motorized feed and deposits the ballot into an integrated ballot box. The DS200 device has tabulating capabilities, and when the polls close, the DS200 can print out the race results and other information on a paper tape (if configured to do so).
When the voter has finished filling out their ballot, they should check it to ensure their selections match their intentions. Next, the voter feeds their ballot into the DS200 machine. After the ballot is scanned and accepted, the voter’s ballot cannot be redone. If the scanner is malfunctioning, voters should follow poll worker instructions, which may include inserting the ballots directly into the ballot box underneath the DS200 scanner.
As votes are entered, the DS200 stores the vote tallies on its internal memory card. Optional land line and wireless modems are available. When the polls close, the DS200’s internal printer prints out the precinct’s vote report on paper.
The DS200 is coded to detect and notify the voter when it encounters an overvoted race or issue on the ballot. An overvote is when more than the allowed number of selections in a race or issue has been marked. An audio alert will sound and the display will indicate that an over-voted race or issue was detected and offer the voter two choices: “Accept” or “Return.”
If the voter selects Accept, the ballot will be counted, all properly marked races and issues will receive the appropriate votes, and the over-voted races and issues will receive an over-vote. The individual candidates or issue choices in an over-voted race will not receive any votes.
If the voter selects Return, the ballot will be returned uncounted, and the voter may contact the election official and have the ballot spoiled and receive a new one.
Overvoting should not be confused with undervoting. A voter undervotes when they cast fewer votes for a particular office than they are permitted to cast. No ballot or vote will be canceled as a result of an undervote.
DS200 Voting Instructions from the Maryland Board of Elections
DS200 Pollworker Instructions from Jackson County, AL
Vulnerability & Security Assessment Report Election Systems &Software’s Unity 18.104.22.168, prepared for the California Secretary of State (2016)
EAC Issues Formal Investigation Report on DS200 Precinct Count Optical Scanner (2011)
EAC Formal Investigative Report on ES&S Unity 22.214.171.124 (2011)
ES&S Unity 126.96.36.199 Rev. 1 Voting System Certification Test Plan for DS200 Modifications to the EAC Certified ES&S Unity 188.8.131.52 (2010)
ES&S Unity 184.108.40.206 VSTL Certification Test Report for testing completed by iBeta (2010)
Election Systems & Software was founded in 1979 as American Information Systems Inc. (AIS), it merged with Business Records Corp. the following year and changed its name to ES&S. It is now a subsidiary of McCarthy Group, LLC, and McCarthy Capital. As of 2007 it was the largest manufacturer of voting machines in the United States, claiming customers in 1,700 localities. As of 2007 it had approximately 350 employees; 2005 revenues were $117 million. ES&S announced its purchase of AutoMARK Technical Systems on January 28, 2008.