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Port Protector Backgrounder

After a 10-month quest to improve its voting operations, the Orange County Registrar of Voters has successfully accomplished its mission of fundamentally changing its voting equipment set-up.

The eSlate voting system that the county has used since 2004 involves a closed network that, through a series of cables, connects individual eSlate devices on which voters cast their ballots to a central device, the Judges Booth Controller (JBC), which stores the voting data.

Potential Issue: The Registrar of Voters noticed that pins in the ports the connecting cables are plugged into can become worn, bent, or broken due to wear and tear.  With data cables being plugged in and out of  the port connectors in the voting equipment four times each election as the equipment is prepared, tested, and set up at the polling place, the potential existed for damaged port connections.

Identifying a Solution: In early 2011, the Registrar of Voters began pro-actively searching for a way to prevent damage to its port connections while still keeping its voting equipment up to strict federal and state certification standards.

After extensive searching, the department identified an easy, economic way to eliminate the risk of port connection damage: the German-manufactured CONEC port protector.

Made of high-quality components, the port protector is highly durable, low cost, and much less likely to need replacement than the old port connections.

Benefits: By attaching the port protector to the port connection on the back of an eSlate, the Registrar of Voters can change the way voting booths are connected, reduce the risk of inoperable equipment on equipment day, streamline Election Day processes, and save taxpayer dollars.

Making it Official: After undergoing extensive laboratory testing, the port protector was certified by the Secretary of State and approved for use in Orange County’s voting equipment.

Integration: In order to smoothly integrate the port protectors into the election process,  the Registrar of Voters conducted three focus groups among poll workers to help develop a training program that teaches poll workers how to use the new port protectors.

The port protectors were incorporated into the June 7, 2011 San Juan Capistrano Special Election as a test, with no errors occurring.

The new port protectors have been installed  on all of Orange County’s 9,600 eSlate devices and will be in use for the 2012 Primary and General Elections.