Our goal is to ensure the highest possible confidence in the results of elections, by enabling accurate, timely, transparent, and verifiable vote counts.

The Humboldt County Election Transparency Project pioneered the idea of making ballot images available to all citizens. TEVSystems offers services and systems to enable easy generation of ballot images, and easy, accurate counts based on these images.

The simplest way to ensure your count is correct is to count twice, with different equipment. Voters deserve a check on the official counting equipment; we make it easy for you to give your voters what they deserve.

Our Services and Systems

Ballot Counting

We will come to your site and perform a complete secondary ballot count. We can count up to a quarter million letter or legal-sized ballots per week.

We provide you with final counts by precinct, DVDs of all ballot scans, and complete records of the votes on each ballot. We provide you with lists of all overvotes, undervotes, and ambiguous votes. We also provide images of all write-ins.

You provide us with at least 100 square feet of lockable office space and provide at least one staff person during all scanning hours in order to maintain your chain of custody. Your staffers monitor our activity and deliver and remove ballots as needed; we handle the rest.

We offer no-surprises pricing:

  • Minimum fee is $5,000 within 500 miles of Eureka, California, $7,500 elsewhere.
  • Unfolded 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 14 one sided: $0.14 per ballot
  • Unfolded 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 14 two sided: $0.19 per ballot
  • Folded 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 14 one sided: $0.19 per ballot
  • Folded 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 14 two sided: $0.24 per ballot
  • Up to 11 x 17 one or two sided: $0.60 per ballot

Turnkey Counting Solutions

Available August 2010

TEVSystems can provide you with complete solutions able to count from 1,000 to 2,000 ballots per hour. Stations include all hardware and software, preselected and tested for compatibility and functionality. Depending on your requirements, each station will cost between $2,500 and $3,500. Unfortunately, ballots larger than legal size (larger than 8.5 x 14 inches) require far more expensive scanners; we cannot currently provide such systems but will be happy to provide the balance of system if you choose to purchase an appropriate scanner.

Our systems do not require programming or customization to individual elections; we read contests, candidates, and precinct information directly off the ballots. If your ballots are typical of those provided by ES&S, Hart, or Diebold/Premiere, there is a good likelihood our systems will work on your ballots without modification.

If your ballots do not conform to our existing requirements, we can modify our software to match your ballot specifications for a one time fee, typically less than $5,000. This is a one-time fee, regardless of how many machines you run the resulting software on. We can provide an exact quote upon inspecting a sample of your ballots.

Counting Setup Rental

When possible, we will rent counting setups for you to use. Because the equipment is generally in demand at election times and unused at other times, we are forced to charge high rental rates at election times. Typically, a used setup can be rented for two weeks for approximately 40% of the cost of purchasing an equivalent new setup. If you wish to rent a counting setup in January-April or August-October, we will rent available setups for approximately 25% of the cost of purchasing an equivalent new setup.

Training and Support

If you wish to assemble your own hardware solution, we are available to assist in making things work, and in training your staff. Our training rates start at $1,200 per day plus instructor travel expenses, with instructor travel time charged at $500 per day.

We can also provide remote training and assistance, making an instructor available to assist your staff in setup and initial operation, for a fee of $500/day.

How Does It Work?

Mitch Trachtenberg developed the scanning procedure and counting software used by the breakthrough Humboldt County Election Transparency Project. This allows the use of off-the-shelf scanning and computer equipment to provide accurate vote counts without depending on the reports from the official vote counting equipment.

Almost immediately, the Transparency Project discovered a problem with the Diebold tabulator used in Humboldt County, California, causing the Secretary of State to decertify that version of Diebold's tabulator.

Using the Humboldt approach, you and your voters can have increased confidence that the results reported by your official equipment are accurate.

Our systems read the candidates, contests, and precincts directly off the ballots, so there is no per-election customization or programming. This completely eliminates one possible path for fraud or error. Our systems are fast enough that they can be used by precinct officials to generate a backup count and complete set of ballot images at the end of election day, before the ballots leave the voting site. This reduces the chance of undetected ballot manipulation during transit.

For ballots that meet our specifications, the system is as easy to use as an office scanner.

You start by feeding in blank sample ballots from all precincts -- the software builds maps of each different ballot type. You then scan voted ballots, and the system quickly determines the type of each ballot and checks each vote opportunity to see how light or dark it is overall. Almost all vote opportunities are either dark enough to be a certain vote or light enough to be a clear nonvote. Ambiguous cases are listed for manual inspection, as are overvotes.

As ballots are scanned, serial numbers can be printed on them. This allows easy comparison of the images with the source ballots. While we highly recommend this additional security measure, ballot numbering is optional and can be skipped if your jurisdiction does not allow printing.

When you have finished scanning ballots, the images and vote counts are written out to a DVD. In addition to standard reporting, we also provide ballot by ballot, vote by vote information about the lightness and darkness of each vote marking.

The most common causes of ambiguous votes will be cases like "hesitation marks," where a voter rests their pencil in one vote area before voting in another. These may show up as false overvotes. Current versions of our systems cannot interpret stray marks that may indicate voter intent, but as ballots are scanned, those with stray marks can be flagged for manual inspection.

The simplest way to ensure your count is correct is to count twice. With our inexpensive services and systems, counting twice is now quick and easy. For more information, call Mitch Trachtenberg at (707) 496-0071 or email info@tevsystems.com.

Mission Statement

Our goal is to ensure the highest possible confidence in the results of elections, by enabling accurate, timely, transparent, and verifiable vote counts.