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Jan 04

Introducing ES&S

Posted on January 4, 2022 at 10:21 PM by Robert Watson

We are happy to announce that the contract between the McLean County Clerk’s office and Election Systems and Software (ES&S) has been unanimously approved by the McLean County Board. McLean County election staff are moving forward with delivery of equipment and preparing for training over 500 election judges and staff ahead of the June 28, 2022 Primary election.


We’re proud to have the opportunity to partner with ES&S to further secure elections for the voters of McLean County.

ES&S History

From the ES&S website:

“ES&S is 100% American owned by McCarthy Group and individual members of ES&S management. McCarthy Group originally partnered with the founders of ES&S in 1987 and for more than thirty years has supported ES&S as it has grown into the industry leader with solutions for each step of an election. ES&S’ stable partnership with McCarthy Group has enabled continuous investment in research and development, resulting in new and improved voting technology built with the highest standards of security that help election officials run secure and successful elections.”


ES&S is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska with consultants and staff located throughout the United States.

Customers Across Illinois

ES&S is a trusted vendor used across many election authorities in Illinois, and beyond. An election authority is the body that runs and manages elections for a specific geographic area. While many election authorities are established per county, there are also a number of municipalities that also act as election authorities. For example, the cities of Bloomington and Galesburg are both election authorities that lie within a county.


During the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, County Clerk Kathy Michael discussed election vendors with many County Clerks and Directors of Elections across the state. She received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the equipment, attention to detail, and support provided by ES&S staff.


Forty-one counties and five cities (of the 108 election authorities) in Illinois were under contract with ES&S as of 2021. That means that ES&S served 43% of all election authorities in the state.


View a map of ES&S Illinois’ customers in 2021.


National Customers

ES&S is also respected nationally. A review of the 2021 ES&S national customer base shows that 11 states use ES&S exclusively, while the company serves election authorities in 26 additional states.


Equipment

The ES&S contract includes new touchscreen voting machines (ExpressVote), access card printers, and ballot scanners/tabulators, Each polling place will have multiple ExpressVote machines and card printers as well as a single ballot tabulator. Voters will cast their ballot using the ExpressVote, which will print a physical ballot. The voter will have an opportunity to review the completed ballot before inserting it into the tabulator. If the voter notices they made a mistake and would like to void their ballot and create a new one, that is easily done before interesting it into the tabulator. The equipment does not have modems or internet connections, making it impossible for bad actors to remotely tamper with votes.


The vote by mail and dropbox ballot processing center in the Government Center will also include a high throughput scanner/tabulator. This equipment will allow election judges to more efficiently process ballots that are mailed or placed in a dropbox. Like the other equipment, the high throughput tabulator does not connect to the internet. Election judges who work with us on this process are veteran election judges from both the Democratic and Republican parties. 

Security

ES&S provides some of the most secure voting hardware and software in the industry. Not only do they follow industry best practices, but they also help develop them. Through a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Center for Internet Security, and many other organizations, ES&S is on the cutting edge of election-related security.


While hardware and software security are paramount, ES&S goes the extra mile by securing its physical facilities, requiring staff security training, and securing its supply chain.


In the first half of 2021, ES&S partnered with Rochester Institute of Technology to conduct penetration testing of its ExpressVote XL system.  The article highlighting their research concluded that “After weeks of research, the team conducted a 10-day penetration test on the ExpressVote XL voting machine. As a result of the engagement, the student researchers found zero attacks that could alter or manipulate a voter’s choices under real-world conditions at an active polling site.”


To read more about ES&S security standards, protocols, and processing, visit the ES&S security web page.


The McLean County Clerk’s Election Division is happy to receive and answer your questions. Feel free to contact the team and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.