AUSTIN, Texas, March 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With rapid advances in consumer technology such as tablets, printers and scanners, it is no surprise that state election officials are considering "off-the-shelf" solutions as they hurriedly replace aging equipment in the face of a busy election year. Not so fast, urges the federal agency charged with certifying voting systems.
It pays to look before you leap, warns the Election Assistance Commission in a report getting a lot of buzz at a recent national conference of top election leaders.
The "plug and play" approach – using equipment purchased piecemeal online or in big box stores – can have unexpected consequences for local election managers, the EAC report points out.
Not only does a local IT team have to figure out how to integrate technologies that may not be supported long-term, they must deal with an array of vendors that may not supply compatible upgrades or even reliable call centers. In the long run, saving on costs is not automatic, and managing diverse components may require hiring more technical staff to execute upgrades and integration, the report says.
"Verity incorporates commercial components, but we test, configure and support the complete system in every way. This protects local jurisdictions from the pitfalls of going it alone with out-of-the box components."
Verity includes an easy-to-use software suite that integrates with a thoughtful combination of American-assembled, purpose-built hardware and enterprise-grade commercial components. The only EAC-certified, second generation digital election system in the marketplace, Verity is also certified in eight states and being tested in many others.
Both the EAC and Hart see risks with an off-the-shelf approach managed by local election staff, instead of a dedicated voting technology team. For example:
Testing. Federal and state certification processes, pre-election testing and post-election audits are rigorous and designed by law. Off-the-shelf product testing is market-driven, and research is needed to determine what levels of testing are appropriate when these items are used in voting and election systems.
- Hart manages certification and other testing for the combination of commercial and Hart-designed components in Verity.
Training and user support. Commercial vendors may not supply adequate documentation for the way a local jurisdiction wants to use the product. The help desk or call center may be outsourced or located across the globe.
- Hart provides ongoing support for the entire system, software, equipment and certification throughout its lifecycle. Hart reliably provides training and documentation needed to keep election staff and poll workers up to speed for the life of the system. Support is available 24/7 from U.S. based staff.
Security. Although not specifically mentioned in the EAC report distributed at the National Association of Secretaries of State mid-winter conference, Hart advises jurisdictions to consider the security risks of "plug and play." Components or consumer-grade operating systems can fall victim to viruses, malware, password theft and denial of service.
- Hart configures its software and equipment exclusively for elections and evaluates it continuously to ensure it meets best-in-class security standards.
"The EAC is on target with these recommendations, and we are proud that Verity has solid solutions for every question raised," said Braithwaite.
"I appreciate the appeal of what might look like a cheaper fix, but election managers can avoid trouble down the road by heeding these EAC guidelines."
For more information on the Verity Voting system, please visit www.hartintercivic.com/verityoverview.
About Hart InterCivic, Inc.
Austin-based Hart InterCivic is a full service election solutions innovator, partnering with state and local governments to deliver secure, accurate and reliable elections. Working side-by-side with election professionals for more than 100 years, Hart is committed to helping advance democracy one election at a time. The Hart mission fuels passionate customer focus and a continuous drive for technological innovation. The new Verity Voting system makes voting straightforward, equitable and accessible—and ensures that managing elections is more transparent, more efficient and easier.
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SOURCE Hart InterCivic