Williamson County Election Commissioners say that primary elections last week were a success and attributes that to, among other things, Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems and Software.
The commission secured an entirely new voting system when the 2022 primary election was only six weeks out, and they credit meticulous planning, collaboration and ES&S personnel and products for the relatively seamless transition.
“It's just really pretty phenomenal the work that was done,” said Jonathan Duda, Chairman of the Williamson County Election Commission. “The collaborative work of our teams – ES&S and the Williamson County Election Commission – demonstrated what can happen when you work together.”
The commission opted to procure services and products from ES&S with the approach of the May 2022 election in response to difficulties experienced with the previous voting equipment last used for the October 2021 election months prior. Just two months before the primary, WCEC officials met with a team of ES&S representatives to begin mapping out and executing a strategy to accommodate all 183,000 registered voters in the county.
“ES&S staff were very proactive in getting everything organized,” said Chad Gray, Williamson County Administrator of Elections. “There were a lot of moving parts in our office with redistricting happening simultaneously with the implementation. Communication was key and a big part of our success. ES&S teams kept things on track.”
Short on time, county officials and ES&S scrambled to install, test and prepare equipment for 25 voting locales to operate during both early voting and Election Day. This also involved training dozens of poll workers to use and operate 170 ExpressVote universal voting machines and 70 DS200 poll place scanner and tabulators.
“The feedback I received from poll workers, fellow election officials and voters was very positive,” Gray said. “Voters didn't experience any delays, and the process was efficient, which also speaks highly of our poll workers who were able to quickly learn a new system. Everyone appreciated how simple the system was to operate and use.”
ExpressVote machines are touch-screen systems that produce paper ledgers for tabulation. The machine executes an entirely internal marking process meant to hedge against any risk of unclear marks to be interpreted by human eyes. It also boasts of sophisticated encryption and audit logs.
ES&S happens to also feature prominently in the case that Attorney Michael Gableman — hired by the GOP — is building to prove that the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin was rigged against Donald Trump. Gableman subpoenaed the mayors of Wisconsin’s five largest cities plus the states top election official, an immigrant rights coalition, Dominion Voting Systems and ES&S, but ES&S refused to comply with the subpoena according to Associated Press.
“This transition would not have occurred without the cooperation and hard work from all involved, including our staff of the Williamson County Election Commission, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and the County Commissioners, the team at ES&S, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Election Commission Chairman Mark Goins,” Duda said. “It really was all hands on deck to implement the new system. The plan was well thought out and well-executed, and ultimately, the voters of Williamson County benefitted from the experience.”
ES&S is the foremost voting system producer nationwide. The firm has been supporting elections in various and sundry jurisdictions across the country for over four decades.