Center for Election Systems provides national leadership on voting issues

Kennesaw State University is the best−known university in the nation when it comes to the support of elections management‚ said Merle King‚ chair of the computer science and information systems department.

Georgia (Apr 4, 2006) — Kennesaw State University is the best−known university in the nation when it comes to the support of elections management‚ said Merle King‚ chair of the computer science and information systems department.

Thanks to his department and the Center for Election Systems‚ two different projects — one currently under way and one just completed — ensure that the Kennesaw State name will be tied to voting in Georgia and across the country for years to come.

Our elections work “is one of the best examples of how KSU is providing leadership at the national level‚” King said.

The Center for Election Systems has been working with the Georgia secretary of state’s office since 2002 in support of statewide electronic voting. Now the center is helping to roll out electronic Election Day check−in at the polls.

In the short run‚ ExpressPoll aims to reduce voter lines at check−in stations by cutting from three people to one the number of poll workers each voter must interact with. In the long run‚ ExpressPoll could allow people to vote anywhere in the state‚ rather than only in a specific precinct.

ExpressPoll was tested in 14 Georgia counties in November 2005‚ including 25 Cobb County precincts‚ where ExpressPoll “worked almost seamlessly‚” said Center for Election Systems Director Ray Cobb. The statewide rollout is scheduled for the July 2006 primaries.

Eleven days before the election‚ a file of all registered voters in Georgia with absentee voters noted‚ will arrive at the center‚ said Cobb. Over the next couple of days‚ the center will duplicate the file onto 6‚000 compact flash cards‚ then overnight them to the counties to arrive one week before Election Day.

The county’s elections officials will insert the flash cards into the ExpressPoll machines‚ download their county’s voter roll and be ready for electronic check−in come Election Day. County workers also will be responsible for updating voter information‚ including additional absentee ballots that come in and any early voting that is done during the week before the election.

In a completely separate elections project‚ King and several members of his CSIS department worked with the federal Election Assistance Commission on new Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. But don’t be fooled by the name; these are not actually voluntary guidelines. Instead‚ this two−volume document spells out the requirements that voting systems must adhere to beginning in December 2007 for federal elections. At this point‚ not a company in the world manufactures compliant systems. That’s okay‚ said King‚ because “the desire is to improve systems‚ not endorse the status quo.”

The VVSG went through a 90−day public comment period before being adopted‚ and KSU was charged with the task of collecting the 6‚000 comments — some emailed‚ some snail−mailed‚ some through sworn testimony — and organizing them in a way to be usable by the EAC.

“We received a virtual mountain of comments‚” King said.

With only two full−time people‚ a contracted technical writer and several part−timers‚ including students‚ King’s team met the EAC’s deadline of Dec. 31‚ 2005.

“We were on the ground floor of developing a standard that affects every person in the United States in terms of voting equipment of the future‚” King said.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit