Verity® Voting debuted in Ohio to solid praise from voters, poll workers and election officials using it for the first time May 7. Hamilton and Williams Counties were the first to vote using the modern, secure technology from Hart InterCivic, a long-time election services provider.
“Our feedback was very positive, and our relationship with Hart gave us confidence throughout the process,” said Hamilton County Director of Elections Sherry Poland.
In Williams County, “our voters loved it,” said A.J. Nowaczyk, Director of Elections, adding that officials appreciated the ease of ballot preparation and Election Day setup. “A half-hour setup at the polling place was all it took,” he said. “Both setup and tear-down were very easy,” added Deputy Director Katrena Ebersole.
Both counties have partnered with Hart since 2006 and chose the trusted provider to deliver the most up-to-date election solution available. “We were confident in Hart in making this move to the latest technology,” said Poland. “Security is always an issue; the timing was right for this upgrade.”
The use of Verity’s Touch Writer option made voting accessible to all in both counties. The ADA-compliant Touch Writer is a standalone ballot-marking device with an audio tactile interface that allows voters to generate a paper ballot marked with their selections. The ballot is scanned like every other ballot, unlike some systems that count such votes separately.
“Voters saw little difference in using their paper ballots, but there was more comfort with the ADA option. It’s much more user-friendly, and more chose to use it,” said Poland in Hamilton County.
“The process is more inclusive,” said Nowaczyk in Williams County. “Voters using an ADA compliant device end up with the same ballot as any other voter. Every ballot is scanned into the same machine, the same way.”
“Touch Writer is not intimidating. Voters can listen to the audio version or not, according to their choice,” he added. “Our voters using Touch Writer found it easy and quick.”
To spread the word about the new voting option, his office is planning a show-and-tell for the Williams County Board of Developmental Disabilities. They also will hold an open house and mock election throughout June to introduce more voters to Verity and the Touch Writer, which they encourage everyone to consider using. “It really is easy,” said Ebersole, adding that the Touch Writer is available at each polling place.
Also promoting voter education, Hamilton County keeps a Verity Voting device available in their lobby for the public to try. They plan more voter outreach before their larger August and November elections.
Leading up to Election Day, Hart’s training for poll workers was praised for an efficient, smooth launch.
“Our project manager gets a shout out. She had lots of good ideas, during preparation and our train-the-trainers process,” said Sally Krisel, Deputy Director of Elections in Hamilton County.
“Happy poll workers mean happy voters, and that is what we got with Verity,” she added. “We had very few calls on Election Day. How easy.”
As the polls closed, Hamilton County election officials surveyed workers for their input about the new equipment. A sampling of their comments about Verity follows:
- I was the first to vote on (Verity Touch Writer) at HQ, and it is easy as pie. Once voters recognize that they can use it effectively, it will be used more often.
- (Verity Scan) is easy to use. The green arrows help the users place their ballots. I had fewer inquiries about casting ballots.
- It is easier for voters to see if there is a problem with their ballot and for us to help them.
- The system is friendlier looking.
- Great. Easy setup. Good instructions.
- (Verity is) much easier and more intuitive to operate.
Poll workers in both counties had praise for the compact, easy to transport Verity equipment. Hamilton County, with more than 500 precincts to support in a full election, added a locked, wheeled storage caddy recommended by Hart. The caddy keeps voting equipment secure, organized and easy to deliver to polling sites.
Election officials also praised Hart’s highly rated culture of support and service.
“Hart’s customer service is fantastic,” said Ebersole. “They are always just a phone call away. Our project manager was on site for Election Night. We had one hiccup, and he was on the phone getting answers.”
“Our support staff was so patient and thorough, making sure that I understood everything I need to know,’ said Nowaczyk, who is new to his position in Williams County.
“Hart says relationships matter, and it’s true,” said Krisel in Hamilton County. “Hart provides excellent support. That relationship was a strong deciding factor in choosing Verity, and in moving forward with Hart.”
“Verity is off to a solid start in Ohio. We could not be prouder to help these Ohio counties transition to Verity, and to witness their satisfaction,” said Phillip Braithwaite, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic, an Austin-based company with more than 100 years of experience providing election solutions. “We value our long-term relationships and these counties’ confidence in great technology. We look forward to seeing other Ohio jurisdictions follow their lead.”
A growing number of U.S. jurisdictions are turning to Hart for easy-to-use, reliable solutions backed by trusted customer support.
As other jurisdictions consider a switch to Verity, Ebersole has advice.
“Between the simplicity of the machines and the awesome support, it’s a great combination. Give them a chance,” she said.
For more information on the Verity Voting system, please visit https://www.hartintercivic.com/state/ohio/