The VR Systems EViD (Electronic Voter iDentification) is an electronic poll book system used in place of printed paper poll books to check in voters, determine whether they have already received or voted a mail ballot, update voter information, and direct voters in the wrong location to their correct polling place. EViD electronic poll book software can be run on a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) laptop owned or rented by a jurisdiction. The optional DirectPrint ballot interface allows jurisdictions to print ballots in-house.
VR Systems’ also sells the EViD Compact, which is EViD software run on a COTS tablet housed in a plastic unit with an integrated barcode scanner, integrated thermal printer, and attached signature pad, as well as the EViD Edge, which is EViD software run on a COTS Windows tablet with an Intel Quad-Core Atom Processor, coupled with a barcode scanner and signature pad. The EViD Edge costs $1,555 per unit, exclusive of software and licensing.
The EViD electronic poll book software application can run in one of three modes:
- Early Voting: EViD is operating an early voting center;
- Voter Check-in Station: EViD is operating at a polling place on Election Day;
- Clerk Station: EViD is operating at a polling place on Election Day. Clerk’s Station performs all the functions of Voter Check-In Station, and additionally permits poll workers to research voters that the primary check-in station is unable to locate, as well as process address changes within or into the precinct in which the electronic poll book is located.
EViD was jointly developed in 2004 by VR Systems and Decision Support. In 2014, VR Systems purchased the elections management assets of Decision Support. Hart InterCivic was a reseller of EViD electronic poll book software in Indiana in 2014–2015.
When opening the polling place, poll workers remove the EViD Edge or EViD Compact devices from their cases, or power on their laptops to run the EViD software program. The EViD Edge tablet is stored in a military-grade storage case along with the tablet case, cables, power adapters, tablet stand, barcode scanner, signature pad, and 3″ bluetooth thermal receipt printer. The EViD Compact is stored in a smaller case with its cords and attachable signature pad. Both units are equipped with a stylus for the voter to use on the attached signature pad.
If using the EViD Edge or EViD Compact, the poll worker powers on the system and the EViD software automatically launches. Poll workers log in to their devices and, after advancing to the home screen, see their initials, the software application (Early Voting, Voter Check-In Station, or Clerk Station), the polling place location, device battery life, and options for checking in voters.
If using the EViD Edge or EViD Compact, a poll worker can look up a voter by swiping the voter’s identity document barcode. The EViD software reads the voter’s ID barcode and automatically brings up the voter’s information, displaying whether or not the voter is eligible to vote in this election. To manually search for a voter, the poll worker selects either Search for Voter or No ID Provided from the home screen. The poll worker can search by the voter’s first and last name, birthdate (fastest search option), and driver license number. The program displays a list of voters with similar names, if applicable, or displays the voter information screen, with the voter’s full name, address, date of birth, precinct, and ballot style. The poll worker confirms that the voter’s information is correct and selects “Yes;” if the information does not match the voter, the poll worker selects “Wrong Voter” to search again.
The EViD program next requests the voter’s signature, which the voter either signs on the attached electronic signature pad, if using the EViD Compact or EViD laptop software. If the voter is being checked in on the EViD Edge, the poll worker flips the tablet like a seesaw toward the voter and the screen automatically adjusts to display the screen right side up to the voter. The voter uses the attached stylus to sign their signature, which can be cleared and remade, if needed. The poll worker accepts the voter’s signature and the program prompts the thermal printer to print a receipt.
EViD electronic poll book software holds voter registration data for all active and inactive voters in a jurisdiction. If a voter’s information is incorrect, a poll worker running the Clerk Station program can update a voter’s name or address, or move the voter into the precinct. If a voter is in the incorrect polling location, the poll worker can print directions to the voter’s correct polling place.
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Potential for Voters to be Checked-in More than Once
Each device equipped with EViD software receives its local database by way of a thumb drive. Updates are made between EViD software and a jurisdiction’s database through a store and forward mechanism. If communications go down, poll workers can still check in voters and voting history data is automatically transmitted to the jurisdiction’s central database when communications resume. Devices that are not communicating regularly are flagged for the jurisdiction. However, poll workers are not informed that communications are lost and voters would be unable to detect that communications are down. Thus, in the event of a denial of service attack or during a power outage that shuts down communication, voters could be allowed to vote more than once.
Russian Phishing and Hacking in 2016
In August 2016, VR Systems reported to the FBI that its employees were the target of a malicious email campaign that was believed to be linked to Russia. Protus3, a cybersecurity firm, examined the activity logs on the EViD poll books and software and determined that some of the county’s laptops had not been properly cleaned of previous data before the 2016 election. In June 2017, The Intercept published a leaked NSA document that revealed Russian hackers had, in August 2016, sent malicious emails to employees of a voting technology company (VR Systems was not named) with the intent of hacking into their company email accounts. The North Carolina State Board of Elections launched its own investigation, seizing 40 laptops from Durham County and suspending EViD’s certification in more than 20 North Carolina counties. The state discovered that, on the day before Election Day in 2016, Durham County experienced problems loading its voter data onto USB drives, which were to be used with its EViD electronic poll books. To troubleshoot the problem, VR Systems connected remotely for several hours to a central computer in Durham County to communicate with and download the voter list from North Carolina’s State Board of Elections, potentially opening a gateway.
In June 2019, 18 months after a request from North Carolina, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would conduct a forensic analysis of the computers used in Durham County during the 2016 presidential election. VR Systems also hired FireEye, a cybersecurity company, to conduct an investigation. The FBI determined that two Florida counties were victims of 2016 breaches by Russian hackers.
VR Systems was founded in 1992. The small business started with a voter registration system, VoterFocus, and, in 2004 in response to devastation caused by Hurricane Charley in South Florida, VR Systems created the EViD electronic poll book designed to check in voters at central locations. In 2010, VR became a 100% employee owned company (ESOP).