The Election Systems & Software (ES&S) ExpressVote XL is a voting system that uses touchscreen technology to produce a printed vote record, which remains behind a window before tabulation by the device. The ExpressVote XL has a 32” touchscreen display, which presents ballot information on a single screen. As of 2023, all jurisdictions using the ExpressVote XL use it as the sole polling place voting system.
To begin the voting process, the voter inserts a blank thermal paper card with the corner cut edge in the upper right into the machine. A voter’s ballot style is often encoded on the blank card during the voter check-in process so the ExpressVote XL automatically displays the proper version of the voter’s electronic ballot. In multilingual jurisdictions, the voter is prompted to select their preferred language. The ExpressVote XL also offers accessible features for voters with disabilities. Voters can adjust the text size and contrast on the screen. The ExpressVote XL also supports accessible voting through a tethered Audio-Tactile Interface (ATI), which is a “game controller” style console that includes tactile navigation buttons. The ATI can also support headphones for voters who are blind or visually impaired, or paddles or sip-and-puff devices for voters with dexterity impairments.
To make a selection, the voter touches inside the box that displays their chosen candidate’s name. If the voter properly selects the candidate’s name, the box appears green with a checkmark in the upper right corner. To deselect a candidate, the voter touches the box again and the checkmark and green highlight disappear. To write in a candidate, voters select the appropriate box marked “Write In” from the Personal Choice column; a keyboard appears for the voter to enter their chosen candidate’s name and the voter selects “Accept.” The voter’s write-in candidate’s name then appears along with other candidates on the ballot screen. When the voter is finished marking their selections, the voter should double-check their choices on the screen or on the summary screen, if so configured. If the voter is satisfied with their selections, the voter selects “Print Ballot” to print a summary paper record of their choices.
The ExpressVote XL prints thermal summary cards, which are 4.25″ wide. The summary paper record is secured inside a self-contained attached module with a clear window to allow voters to review their printed choices, meaning the paper record is not directly accessible to voters. In English, the summary card lists voters’ choice(s) in each contest, rather than all options, like a traditional format ballot. If the voter has skipped any contests, the printed card indicates “No selection.” The ExpressVote XL encodes the voter’s choices in machine-readable barcodes and scans the barcodes to check for errors immediately after printing.
When used as a tabulator, after the voter reviews the printed record, compares it to the selections made on the touchscreen, and is satisfied with their choices, they may select “Cast” to submit the vote. At that time, ExpressVote XL records the vote to permanent memory and drops the paper card into an attached receptacle. If the voter decides to change a selection on their ballot, instead of hitting “Cast,” the voter must quit the voting session and request help from a poll worker to restart the voting process.
When used as a ballot marking device, after the voter reviews the printed record, compares it to the selections made on the touchscreen, and is satisfied with their choices, the ballot is then ejected, and the voter must insert it into a separate ES&S tabulator to cast their vote.
The ExpressVote XL tabulates the paper cards by reading the computerized bar code, not the human-readable text that the voter sees. The bar codes translate to the grid coordinates on the corresponding paper ballot, not to the candidates’ names. When the polls close, the machine can print out the race results and other information on a paper tape (if configured to do so).
- After you check in, a poll worker will direct you to a voting station and help you get started.
- Make your selections by touching the screen.
- Your selections will be highlighted in green.
- After you make all of your selections, review them on the screen.
- Check that you have voted all the contests you want to vote and confirm your selections.
- You do not have to vote every contest.
- Check the maximum number of candidates you are allowed to select for each office.
- You may select fewer than the maximum number of candidates.
- If you are satisfied with your selections, touch PRINT on the screen to print your ballot.
- Your printed paper ballot will appear in the window to the right of the screen.
- Confirm your selections on the printed ballot.
- If you want to make a change after the ballot is printed, select SPOIL BALLOT (or QUIT).
- This will alert a poll worker that you need help. You will have to start the voting process over.
- Touch VOTE to submit your ballot. The ballot will be deposited into a secure container.
- You will see a confirmation screen when your ballot has been cast.
How to Use the ExpressVote XL from Union County, NJ
Demonstration of the ExpressVote XL by the Philadelphia City Commission
Shared Printer and Scanner Path
The paper vote record used by the ExpressVote shares the same physical path when the card is being printed as when it is being scanned. The printer could print on a card as it is being scanned (and counted) and could change the user’s selections. One way in which this could happen is through adding additional, or new, barcodes to the card — after it is cast by the voter. The NYSTEC Testing Oversight of ES&S EVS 220.127.116.11 Report found that, as tested in New York, the XL prints “X”s to fill in any blank spaces, thus not allowing new barcodes to be added. However, if the printer can be hacked to add barcodes, it can be hacked not to print “X”s.
Non-Human-Readable Barcodes Encode Voters’ Selections
The ExpressVote XL voting system uses barcodes in tabulating voters’ selections. Voters are unable to verify or confirm that the printed barcode actually matches their selection. Read more about Verified Voting’s initial opposition to the certification of the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machine for New York’s elections—and 2023 reiteration of opposition.
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.