While some Hoosier voters will start seeing changes in electronic voting systems this election, Muncie will have to wait.
In late July, the Indiana Election Commission approved the first voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for electronic voting systems — a security measure that allows voters to independently verify their vote was correctly recorded, according to a press release from the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State.
Almost half of the counties in Indiana use direct record electronic (DRE) machines, the press release stated. These machines have a paper trail in the back of the machines, but not visible to the voter.
As a security measure, paper trails that are visible to the voter are being added to VVPAT electronic voting equipment, it stated.
“Adding VVPATs to election equipment will help boost voter confidence and allow us to implement risk limiting audits,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson in the press release. “Together, these practices will show voters at the polls their vote is safe and secure and following up with a post-election audit will confirm their vote was counted. As we prepare for the upcoming presidential election, we will be working to protect 2020 and beyond.”
As of July, the press release states the Indiana General Assembly provided funding to equip 10 percent of electronic voting equipment with a VVPAT and some Indiana voters will start seeing the equipment at the polls this fall.
Muncie voters, however, will have to wait since they won’t see any VVPAT machines in Tuesday’s election, said Rick Spangler, Delaware County clerk.
Nevertheless, by 2029, all voting equipment in the state will be required to have a voter verifiable paper trail, the press release states.
In 2020, however, Muncie will see a switch to Electronic Poll Books to verify voter identity, Spangler said. This, he said, will speed up the voting process.
According to Indiana Secretary of State’s website, as of Nov. 4, there are 66 Indiana counties using Electronic Poll Books.
Ball State has a connection with Indiana’s voting process as part of the Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP) — which advises Indiana’s Secretary of State and Election Commission.
All election equipment used in Indiana goes through an extensive review and testing process prior to use, the press release states — first the equipment must be approved by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to meet federal requirements, next, VSTOP reviews and tests the equipment to ensure it meets Indiana standards.
Once a piece of equipment has the EAC and VSTOP stamp of approval, it goes to the Indiana Election Commission for approval, it states.
The VSTOP partnership with the university began in 2008 and has been part of Indiana’s voting process ever since, said Indiana Secretary of State Deputy Communications Director Ian Hauer.
“[VSTOP] store[s] and test[s] Indiana’s voting equipment prior to elections for safety and security, advise state and local agencies on voting machine certification and electronic poll books, and conduct post-election audits when requested,” Hauer said in an email response.
VSTOP is headed by Bryan Byers, professor of criminal justice and criminology, and Jay Bagga, professor of computer science.
Hauer said there are many advantages when it comes to working with Ball State on the voting machines.
“VSTOP is a non-partisan project focused on research, testing, and security,” Hauer said. “It is helpful to have that voice at the table when determining the best course of action for something as sensitive as elections.”
Rohith Rao contributed to this story.