Case Study: Building a reliable and robust voting system for the Senate of Virginia

The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly in the United States. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Virginia is a state with a rich history. However, in tune with modern times, it needed to build a rock-solid electronic system to capture and tabulate votes in the Senate of Virginia.

Because voting is the bedrock of American democracy, an electronic voting system needs to be reliable, always available, easy to use, and extremely secure. The Senate of Virginia needed such a system to register and tabulate votes, control the order of business, call votes, recognize speakers, and summon members and pages.

The Senate of Virginia wanted a system that would give it better control over its technology. They also wanted complete control over the legislative mechanism and needed help with the physical layer of voting, where their members would press button for either “Yes” or “No”. They were comfortable developing the application themselves.

The integrator developed a Visual Basic application to prepare measures for voting and then record and archive the ballots as the vote is closed. They also developed a voting module by programming a Crestron 2-Series Control System to capture and tabulate votes and control the audiovisual systems. Another consultant installed the Crestron System and the AV gear. The Crestron and Visual Basic systems communicate on a closed Ethernet network with no physical connection to the outside world.

The system is mainly used to capture and tabulate votes for the Senate when in session. The Crestron processor tabulates the votes and then hands them off to the Senate server, which sends the totals to their Barco monitors and records them in their archive.

The system also includes touch screens for the President, Clerk, and two Assistant Clerks to manage the opening and closing of votes, the request-to-speak queue, the audiovisual systems, as well as access to the Visual Basic system. Each senator has a touch screen and there is also one on the Dias.

Six large displays show voting information to the members, the press, and those seated on the Dias. Two more displays register page requests from the senators. There is also a PC that displays the order of speakers via Crestron XPanel software so that the televison network can plan camera shots and captions.

The Crestron technology offers many advantages. It is extremely stable with the equipment hardwired in place so that it relies on battery power and the possibility of theft is reduced. Also it is built on a closed Ethernet system so it is extremely secure.

Also, the network is completely isolated and cannot be accessed or hacked from outside the room. The existing system with the original panels have been upgraded with 40 new Crestron 7″ touch screens, new units on the Dias and a new Crestron 3-Series Control system. The newest Crestron components have improved processing speed and the new system is extremely fast.

So, now you know why one state government in the United States opted for a new voting system infrastructure. It has enabled them to enhance the very bedrock of democracy – voting! So, here’s to safe, secure and stable governance…with the right technology…

For more information on how you can set up a suitable control system for your business, contact Actis at 022-30808080 or at contact@actis.co.in.

(Content courtesy: www.crestron.com and images courtesy: www.washingtontimes.com and www.virginiaconservative.net)

1 Response
  1. Col.Krishna Kumar

    A very interesting article on how democracies across the world are benefitting from advance technology. If replicated in the corporate board rooms, it can be a great efficiency multiplier. Security which is a major cause of concern is taken care of since it is built on Closed Ethernet system.

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