Everyone Counts Voting System Accredited for Federal Elections, But…

When the San Diego voting technology company Everyone Counts closed on a $20 million financing deal a year ago, executive chairman Tom Tullie said the company needed funding in “a pretty big way” to get ready for the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Among other things, Everyone Counts needed to get its eLect Quad Audit voting system certified by a federally accredited voting system test lab.

Alas, the company announced only last week that its system was the first to pass muster under the latest federal voting system standards. “It was something we thought would take one year, and it took three,” Everyone Counts founder and CEO Lori Steele Contorer said earlier this week.

United States Election Vote ButtonNow, with just 60 days left before the November 8 election, Steele Contorer said there isn’t enough time for election officials to purchase and deploy the software-and-tablet-based voting system.

“Most have to go through a procurement process,” she explained. “Deploying statewide or even county-wide would be a big job. If they haven’t deployed new technology by now there isn’t enough time to deploy it for the presidential election in November.”

“Unfortunately, election officials are stuck with their existing technology because most elections begin to go live in three weeks,” Steele Contorer said. (Early voting in California, for example, starts in 30 days.) “They are stuck with old, antiquated purpose-built hardware and manual paper-based processes.”

Steele Contorer, who decided to start Everyone Counts following the “hanging chads” debacle of the 2000 presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore, estimates that most of the voting systems in the United States today are 30 to 50 years old, and nearing obsolescence. Even though Congress provided $3.9 billion for states to invest in new voting technologies after the 2000 election, Steele Contorer estimates a third of the voting systems being used this November 8 could fail.

Bringing innovative technology to the U.S. market has been a long slog for Steele Contorer, who founded Everyone Counts 12 years ago. But she put her best entrepreneurial spin on the situation.

Lori Steele-Contorer, Lori Steele, Everyone Counts

Lori Steele Contorer

She said the Everyone Counts voting system already is certified for use in Colorado, Alabama, and Utah, in Chicago (Cook County, IL), and in 11 counties in Washington state. It also will be used in the coming U.S. election for U.S. military and civilian voters who are overseas.

Steele Contorer also contended that the long process to get her company’s system certified for use in federal elections “is a big barrier to entry for other new technology companies looking to enter the market.”

Once the presidential election is over, state and county election officials will turn their attention to procuring new voting systems for the next election cycle, she said.

As the first and only software-and-tablet voting system to meet federal voting system standards—and to go through version 1.1 of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, Steele Contorer said, the eLect Quad Audit system is now eligible for use in 37 states.

Of the remaining states, a handful already have certified the system, and she said she expects eLect will be compliant with the other states’ regulatory requirements by the end of this year, “or the first quarter of 2017, at the very latest.”

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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