Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP)
Make / Model: Smartmatic/Los Angeles County VSAP
Equipment Type: Ballot Marking Device, Batch-Fed Optical Scanner, and Remote Ballot Marking System: Client-Side
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The VSAP Tally 2.1 voting system is composed of six core components: Ballot Marking Device (BMD), BMD Manager (BMG), Enterprise Signing Authority (ESA), Tally high-capacity scanner, VSAP Ballot Layout (VBL), and the Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB).
The Ballot Marking Device is the primary touchpoint for the voter and is the hub of the voting system, guiding users with screen prompts and symbols. The voting process is initiated upon check-in at the polling place, where the voter receives a blank ballot, printed with a header encoded with the election and the ballot style information corresponding to the voter’s address. The voter inserts the ballot into the BMD to activate the voting session. Every BMD features an adjustable tablet-style touchscreen, an audio-tactile interface (controller, headphones, and dual-switch input), paper handler (scanner, printer, tray), and QR code scanner, which voters can use to generate, verify, and cast paper ballots.
When the ballot prints, it is presented and held in a tray so the voter need not handle it unless they wish to. Completed ballots are fed back from the tray into the integrated ballot box, where they are stored until poll workers detach the integrated ballot box to transport ballots for counting. The BMD does not tabulate; rather, the scanner components of the BMD are used to read the encoding for ballot style, to read the Interactive Sample Ballot (see below), or to discern that the voter has completed a ballot and is ready to verify and cast it.
The Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB) can be used as either a remote ballot marking system or as a “poll pass,” which speeds up the voter’s time in the poll booth. The ISB does not require internet connection for making selections. In 2020, the ISB used as a client-side remote ballot marking system is available only to Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters and voters with disabilities and can only be used to mark and print a ballot for drop off or mail return — the electronic submission of voted ballots (internet voting) is not supported.
A voter who uses the Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB) as a “poll pass” accesses their ballot style and choices via a web app which encodes their selections in a QR code, (the “poll pass”) in advance of arriving at the polling place. After a voter’s voting session is initiated at the BMD, the voter can scan their poll pass, causing the BMD to populate the ballot with those preselected choices. The voter can then make any desired changes to their selections via the BMD, or can accept their selections and proceed to printing, verification, and casting, thus saving time in the voting booth.
The VSAP Ballot Marking Device (BMD) prints marked ballots in a full-size page summary list format (selections only) showing each contest and the voter’s choices, and also encodes voter selections into a digitally-signed, non-proprietary, non-human readable QR code.
The VSAP Tally scanner is a high-speed high-capacity scanner and tabulator. Tally captures and processes ballot images to digitally count votes from paper ballots — both vote-by-mail ballots and BMD ballots from polling places. Each ballot image is converted to a cast vote record (CVR). At the time of scanning, a CVR number corresponding to the ballot image is printed on the margin of the physical ballot, enabling ballot-level comparison audits. Tally then tabulates the votes and enables export of the election results.
Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB) as a Remote Ballot Marking System
The ISB can also be used as a remote ballot marking system for voters with disabilities. Eligible voters access the system in their preferred browser, entering their last name, date of birth, and house number. The voter marks their ballot using the client-side remote ballot marking system, confirms their selections on the review screen, and prints their ballot to return via mail or drop off. The ISB does not support the electronic return of voted ballots (internet voting).
Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Voting Instruction Video
How to Use and Return an Accessible Vote by Mail Ballot
Guide to the Voting Soutions for All People (VSAP) Ballot Marking Device
Los Angeles County’s risky voting experiment, Politico (March 3, 2020)
VSAP Testing and Certification Documents, California Secretary of State
The company behind LA’s new election infrastructure Saul Gonzalez, KCRW (2018)
Smartmatic Announces Sale of Sequoia Voting Systems, Rep. Carolyn Maloney press release (Nov. 2007)
U.S. Investigates Voting Machines’ Venezuela Ties, New York Times, Oct. 29, 2006
Smartmatic was founded in 1998 by three Venezuelans, Antonio Mugica, Alberto Anzola, and Roger Pinate. Initially they developed ATMs in Mexico, but the U.S. presidential election in 2000 led the group to consider electronic voting platforms. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s government gave the company an early loan and its first contract for election machines in 2004. The following year, Smartmatic bought Sequoia Voting Systes, but after a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry, Smartmatic sold Sequoia in 2007. More recently, Smartmatic has become a political lighting rod in the Philippines, with some politicians accusing the company of marketing faulty equipment and orchestrating election fraud.