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The Solution

Voter-Marked, Paper Ballot (VMPB) Voting System

Here's a simple explanation of how our new Clear Ballot system works:

  1. Sign in to your polling place and receive a paper ballot.

  2. Proceed to one of several privacy booths or screens.

  3. Mark your choice of candidates and ballot issues by filling in ovals next to your selections, similar to marking a lottery ticket.

  4. There is an accessible ballot marking device (BMD) for those unable to hand-mark their ballots or other voters that want to use it.

  5. When finished, go to a scanner in your precinct and insert your ballot.

  6. If your ballot is returned to you, the scanner screen will alert you that you either under-voted (you missed voting in at least one race) or you over-voted (chose more selections than allowed).                                              --Under-votes*: If you are happy with your ballot as is,  simply reinsert your ballot and the scanner will accept it. If you wish to fill in missed choices, go to a privacy booth to fix and then reinsert back into the scanner. *Note: County will disable this function for the 2020 elections, may instate for future elections once voters are familiar with voting system.   --Over-votes: If you wish to correct your ballot, a nearby pollworker can help you get a new one to fill out. If you choose to not correct the over-voted race, you may reinsert again and only that race will not be recorded, the rest of your ballot will register correctly.


   7. The digital scanner will read and record your ballot.


   8. The ballot then drops down into a locked bag and is               retained for post-election audits and recounts, if 

needed. If for some reason the scanner breaks down, malfunctions or is compromised, your vote is not lost and can still be counted. The audit assures us we're getting the best results with both the convenience of the computer and the security of the paper.

Ballot Clear Ballot cropped.png
4 way and shields on table.jpg
Scanner Clear Ballot cropped.png

Click on scanner picture to watch a video on how to vote on the Clear Vote system.

Pretty simple!  A voter hand-marked, paper-ballot (VMPB) voting system, in conjunction with a properly conducted risk-limiting audit, can do what we need it to do—give citizens the assurance that our elections are valid and reflect the true intent of the voters.

Do you have questions about what to expect when using a voter-hand-marked system? Find answers to many common ones here. Contact us if you have any other questions--we're glad to help!


Below, you can see why we feel Clear Ballot was the best choice for Bucks County! The other vendors' products just did not measure up and some would have been a disaster (ES&S is so bad, it needs its own website page).

(To understand why the features are rated as good or concerns, see How to Choose the Best System).

VENDORS AND THEIR PRODUCTS  (good features in blue, concerns in red)

 (Reminder: BMD = ballot marking device)

Clear Ballot ClearVote System


  • BMD-produced ballots are the same size, shape and type of paper as hand-marked paper ballots, and do not use barcodes.

  • BMD got high marks from a voter who is blind.

  • Uses high tech commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, which may be less expensive to purchase, replace, upgrade and be more resilient in the future. As the newest vendor, seems to have designed system from ground up with security and resiliency in mind.

  • Has impressive tabulating and auditing programs that may make conducting post-election, risk-limiting audits easier and faster.  Audit software can statistically choose ballot images to compare to the easily-located corresponding paper ballots and would ensure election results are as accurate  as possible.

  • Scanner, BMD and ballot-collecting bag are compact, very portable and seem rugged.

  • ONLY VENDOR NOT PROMOTING "BMDs-for-All" voting system configuration.

Hart Intercivic Verity System


  • BMD-produced ballots are the same size, shape and type of paper as hand-marked paper ballots.

  • BMD got high marks from a voter who is blind.

  • Scanner and BMD are very compact, easily portable and are stackable, taking up minimum transport and warehouse space.

  • Ballot box has separate compartment for unscanned ballots, and folds flat for convenient storage.

  • Equipment seems sturdy and secure.

  • Has software for post-election audits, as per website information. We did not see demonstrated at exhibitions.

  • While not specifically marketed as a BMD, the Verity Touch Duo is a new machine being marketed for vote centers and early voting, which PA does not have. It was shown at Bucks County Expo as a possible "BMDs-for-All" contender to compete with other vendors pushing that type of voting system.

  • NEW:   BMD uses Windows Embedded Standard 7 software, which seems to be supported until October 2020; it might be possible to update until 2023 but may cost more to do that.

Dominion Democracy Suite


  • BMD-produced ballots appear from vendor brochure information to be same size, shape and type of paper as hand-marked ballots.

  • Ballot box sturdy, and is larger "trashcan" style.

  • BMD-produced ballots use barcodes, which the voter cannot verify.

Unisyn OpenElect System 


  • The ballot box was secure and has a separate compartment for unscanned ballots if the scanner were to fail.

  • The lower ballot box unit (trashcan-size) is nesting-stackable for storage.

  • BMD prints differently sized ballots--narrow strips of paper--than the hand-marked ballots.

  • BMD -produced ballots use barcodes which the voter cannot verify.

ES & S

  • Precinct scanner is the DS200.

  • BMDs are the ExpressVote (hybrid or non-hybrid) and ExpressVote XL (hybrid only).   Hybrid versions have built-in scanners.    


  • Scanner has been in use for past 8 years.

  • Ballot box sturdy, and is larger "trashcan" style.

  • BMD prints differently sized ballots--narrow strips of paper--than the hand-marked ballots, and utilizes barcodes which the voter cannot verify.

  • BMD voting procedures and touchscreen were confusing even for non-disabled members of our group to navigate.

  • BMDs (hybrid models) have serious ability to change the paper ballot after being allegedly verified by a voter ("opportunity-to-mark feature") as well as a "permission-to-cheat" feature which must be disabled to be PA certified; explanations by renowned computer scientists.

  • The scanners in the hybrid BMDs cannot scan hand-marked absentee or provisional ballots, only their 4.5" wide ballot summaries.

  • NEW:   BMDs run on outdated Windows 7 software; will need to be upgraded and possibly re-certified with Windows 10 which may take more time and expense.

  • NEW:   Hybrid BMDs have now been challenged by cybersecurity and election integrity experts for new recertification tests due to alleged security vulnerabilities and not meeting some PA Election Code requirements. Actual petition here.

  • NEW: We have an entire page devoted to explaining all the problems with the hybrid ExpressVote BMDs and other concerns about ES&S as a company.

More terms to know that are the same as a VMPB system:

  • PBOS (paper-based, optical scan) system

  • VVPB (voter-verified, paper-based) system

  • Optical scan/digital scan system

A VVPAT (voter-verified, paper audit trail) may NOT mean the same thing, though, so to be more precise we use one of the other terms. This usually describes an add-on printer attached to a DRE (touchscreen/pushbutton) machine. They have been proven to be highly ineffective, and are not allowed in Pennsylvania, forbidden by our PA Election Code.

Some criticisms of a VVPAT can also apply to the ES&S ExpessVote XL (see above).

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