TITLE 17
Elections

CHAPTER 17-19
Conduct of Election and Voting Equipment, and Supplies

SECTION 17-19-3


§ 17-19-3 Voting equipment and services – Specifications.

(a) The office of secretary of state shall develop, from time to time, and, in coordination with the general assembly for the purpose of funding procurement, submit specifications to the department of administration that the department of administration shall utilize in procuring voting equipment, voting systems, and services related thereto in accordance with this chapter and chapter 2 of title 37 of the general laws. These specifications and requests for proposals for the options of purchasing, leasing to own, or renting precinct-count voting systems that utilize technologies, methods, and equipment considered reasonable best practices for the state and in compliance with all laws, and for a full-service contract for such voting systems, shall be constructed and shall operate in a manner that meets the following minimum requirements:

(1) It shall enable the voter to:

(i) Mark his or her ballot and cast his or her vote in secrecy;

(ii) Vote for all candidates of political parties or organizations, and for, or against, questions as submitted;

(iii) Vote for as many persons for an office as the voter is lawfully entitled to vote for, but no more; and

(iv) Vote on any question the voter may have the right to vote on;

(2) It shall prevent the voter from voting for the same person more than once for the same office;

(3) The voting equipment shall allow the voter to cast one vote, thereby allowing the voter to vote for all the presidential electors of a party by a clear and unambiguous means; provided, that means shall be furnished by which the voter can cast a vote in part for the candidates for presidential electors of one party, and in part for those of one or more other parties, or in part or in whole, for persons not nominated by any party;

(4) The precinct-counting system shall meet the following specifications:

(i) Vote counting, including absentee ballots, shall be performed through the use of automated electronic equipment;

(ii) All vote counting shall be performed on equipment supplied as part of the bid. The system shall not require the use of non-supplied equipment to count ballots or tabulate results;

(iii) There shall be privacy enclosures in which a voter may mark his or her ballot or otherwise cast his or her vote in secret;

(iv) There shall be a device located in each polling place that can record the vote count and tally the vote count in that polling place and that can produce a printed tally of all races contained on said ballot in human, readable form. The device shall automatically print a "zero report" at the beginning of the day when the device is activated. The device that receives ballots for counting shall have an external counter indicating the number of ballots received. The actual vote tally shall be capable of being performed only by election officials and shall not be visible during the actual voting process. Each recording device shall ensure the security of voted ballots and ease of access;

(v) As part of the voting process, there shall be created a physical ballot showing the votes cast by an individual voter that is capable of being hand counted so that electronic-recorded device totals can be checked for accuracy;

(vi) There shall be a device at each polling place to receive the physical audit trail of ballots cast and that shall securely store the ballots and have the capability of restricting access to the ballots only to authorize officials;

(vii) In the event of loss of electrical power, the polling place vote count shall be stored on an ongoing basis in media that will retain the count of the votes cast to that point in time for a period of no less than five (5) years;

(viii) The polling place vote counts shall be stored on a stable media that may be easily transported and that may be accessed and counted by an electronic device so that state, city, and/or town vote totals can be electronically calculated by combining individual polling place totals. It shall not be necessary to enter individual polling place totals by, and into, a central computer or device for the purpose of producing the state, city, and/or town totals, but rather the electronic media on which the polling place totals are stored shall be directly readable and accessible by a regional or central device;

(ix) There shall be a device that has the capability to electronically read the storage device upon which the individual polling place totals are stored and that shall produce a combined total for all races, which total can be printed in easily readable and legible form in a format prescribed by the state board of elections;

(x) The system provided shall allow the secretary of state to have the capability to design the ballot format;

(xi) The system shall provide a capability for the state, without the use of outside services, to set up and prepare the counting devices to total an election; and

(xii) The system must be capable of receiving voted ballots without counting when without power and must provide for securely storing uncounted ballots;

(5) The following minimum equipment shall be required for the state:

(i) There shall be a minimum number of units to permit counting to be conducted in each polling place within the state with a reserve of equipment on hand;

(ii) There shall be a sufficient number of voting booths for each precinct to accommodate voters as determined in this title;

(iii) The number of polling place units and voting booths must be sufficient to permit the election to run smoothly without excessive waiting of voters;

(iv) If there is an increase in the number of polling places statewide during the term of the contract, the vendor will supply additional polling place units and voting booths at a cost proportional to the cost of the initial units pro rated for the balance of the agreement years;

(v)(A) There shall be high-speed, absentee vote tabulating equipment. These tabulators, as a whole, must be capable of counting absentee ballots at a reasonable best practices rate. The tabulators shall utilize the same ballots used in the polling place;

(B) This system shall have the following capabilities in connection with the counting of ballots and producing results:

(I) This system shall be able to read the media from the polling place units on which polling place results are stored and shall be able to compile polling place results producing a ballot total for each race; and

(II) This system shall be capable of producing and printing out ballot totals on a polling-place-by-polling-place basis for each race, and shall be capable of producing a final total and subtotals of all races from all races and polling places in the state. All totals must be able to be produced at any time, based upon the number of polling places counted up to that point in time, and these printout results shall state the number of precincts counted and the percentage of precincts reporting;

(vi) There shall be all equipment necessary to program the system and erase the memory devices;

(vii) Reasonable best-practices tabulating equipment shall be located in each of the thirty-nine (39) local boards of canvassers and the central tabulation equipment shall be located at the state board of elections. The state board of elections, in conjunction with the service contract vendor, no less than thirty (30) days prior to an election, shall test the tabulation system to be utilized for the election and determine whether regional and/or central tabulation is adequate, and if regional tabulation is required, so implement it. The tabulation system shall have the following capabilities in connection with the counting of ballots and producing results:

(A) This system shall be able to read the media from the polling place units on which polling place results are stored and shall be able to compile polling place results producing a ballot total for each race;

(B) This system shall be capable of producing and printing out ballot totals on a polling-place-by-polling-place basis for each race and shall be capable of producing a final total and subtotal of all races from all races and polling places in the state;

(C) All totals must be able to be produced at any time based upon the number of polling places counted up to that point in time, and the printout results shall state the number of precincts counted and the percentage of precincts reporting; and

(D) This system shall be capable of transferring information gathered from the precincts and, if regional and/or central tabulation sites are utilized, the system shall be capable of transferring information gathered at any regional or central sites utilized by the thirty-nine (39) local boards of canvassers;

(6) All necessary programming and accumulation software shall be provided to run the election system in accordance with the required specifications as well as all necessary and required modules. Any software updates during the term of the agreement shall not be charged to the state;

(7) The vendor of the precinct-count system shall provide written proof of compliance with federal standards then in place and administered by the designated federal agency or organization from an independent testing company and this written proof must be on file with the office of the secretary of state and the state board of elections;

(8) The vendor shall also provide the following information to be included in the vendor's bid proposal:

(i)(A) An audited financial statement covering the previous five (5) years, and if the vendor is not the manufacturer of the equipment, both the agent and manufacturer must submit an audited financial statement covering the previous five (5) years with the bid;

(B) In the event that either the vendor, agent, or manufacturer has been in existence for less than five (5) years, that entity must submit an audited financial statement for each and every full year that they have been in existence;

(ii) Proof of experience in the field of elections including, but not limited to, years of experience in this field and experience with a jurisdiction having the same needs as the state of Rhode Island; and

(iii) Names and addresses of the support organizations that will provide support of all equipment.

(b) The full-service plan shall include the following services, but, at the discretion of the office of the secretary of state, shall not be limited to the following services:

(1) Computer coding and layout of all ballots to be used in each election under contract, including the printing of the ballot and the preparation of the ballot-reading device to ensure that the ballots are compatible with the ballot-reading device. Subsequent thereto, the state board of elections shall be responsible for the following:

(2) Testing of each unit for logic and accuracy;

(3) Testing of each programmed memory device;

(4) Set up of each precinct-count unit at each polling place;

(5) Maintenance of all precinct-count units;

(6) Training of poll workers;

(7) On-site election night staff at the central tabulation location and any other locations as may be determined by the state board to receive and transmit election results;

(8) On-site election day field technicians to respond to repair calls;

(9) Providing the following equipment and supplies:

(i) Secrecy covers for voted ballots;

(ii) Demonstration ballots;

(iii) Precision-cut shell program ballots ready for printing with timing marks;

(iv) Marking pens;

(v) Ballot transfer cases;

(vi) Envelopes for mailing and receiving absentee ballots; and

(vii) Printer ribbons, paper tape rolls, and seals.

(c) Any bid proposal by an offeror for a precinct-count system and a full-service agreement for a precinct-count system that does not conform in all respects to the requirements of subdivisions (a)(1) – (b)(9)(vii) of this section may be accepted by the office of the secretary of state with the consent of the department of administration. The office of the secretary of state shall memorialize the acceptance of any bid proposal that does not conform with the requirements of subsections (a)(1) – (b)(9)(vii) of this section in each instance of such non-conformance.

(d) The office of the secretary of state periodically shall conduct a review of the election system, provide a report to the general assembly, and shall be responsible for establishing minimum requirements and specifications for the procurement of voting equipment and services.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1935, ch. 2195, § 4; G.L. 1938, ch. 318, § 4; G.L. 1938, ch. 318, § 3; P.L. 1940, ch. 818, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 17-19-4; G.L. 1956, § 17-19-3; P.L. 1958, ch. 18, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 277, § 12; P.L. 1996, ch. 298, § 12; P.L. 2014, ch. 279, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 280, § 1; P.L. 2015, ch. 176, § 3; P.L. 2015, ch. 201, § 3.)