Keeping Our Elections Secure
The Office of Elections and Voter Registration is dedicated to providing each resident of Loudoun County with the opportunity to exercise his or her right to vote in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and the Code of Virginia.
We take measures to ensure fair, accurate and secure elections. We want to be transparent about our processes and ensure that voters have the facts regarding our practices within Loudoun County.
The ‘voting system’ used in Loudoun County consists of three distinct and separate systems:
- Statewide Voter Registration System (VERIS)
- Electronic Pollbook System (ePollTab)
- Voting Equipment System (Unisyn FVS & OVI)
Each of these systems performs a different but vital role in the voting process. The three systems operate completely independently of each other and are not connected in any way. The independence of the three different systems provides a set of checks and balances to ensure the voting process is safe, efficient, and secure. Each system has its own unique set of security protocols in place.
- VERIS - Statewide Voter Registration System
- ePollTab Electronic Pollbook System
- Unisyn Open Elect Voting Equipment System
VERIS is the central repository of all voter records in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each locality in Virginia has access to this system and is responsible for adding, updating, and removing voter records as needed. Access to this system is strictly controlled and secured via several different measures including but not limited to background checks on all staff accessing, two-factor authentication, and IP address verification. ‘List Maintenance’ is performed at regular intervals as specified in the Virginia State Code to ensure that the list of voters is always up to date.
ePollTab is used at the precinct level to verify voter eligibility. An ‘electronic pollbook’ is created with data downloaded from VERIS as the two system are not connected to one another in any way. The pollbook contains information that allows Election Officers to verify voter identity and eligibility, as well as information pertaining to whether the voter requested a mail ballot, voted early, etc. During early voting this information is updated daily to ensure that the most accurate information is being used. Pollbooks to be used on election day are created after the close of early voting to ensure that data is up to date. All pollbooks to be used in an election are programmed and tested prior to being deployed. They are then sealed into cases to await delivery to the voting precinct, where the Election Officers verify the seals prior to opening.
The Open Elect system consists of two pieces of equipment, the FVS and the OVI. The FVS is the ballot scanner, its job is to scan and tabulate the ballots. The OVI is the ADA ballot marking device for voters with a disability who wish to vote un-aided, it produces a paper ballot that is then inserted into the FVS. Loudoun County utilizes a 100% paper ballot system, there is no ‘electronic’ voting in Loudoun or Virginia. Neither the FVS or OVI are connected to the internet at any time. The FVS and OVI are programmed and tested during a process called ‘Logic & Accuracy’ testing. During L&A a team of bi-partisan election officers’ programs and tests each individual machine for the specific precinct it is being assigned to. The tester then signs off on the accuracy of the machine, and the reports are reviewed by members of the Electoral Board who sign off as well. At the conclusion of the programming and testing the machine are immediately sealed and placed into the precinct delivery cart to await delivery. Upon arrival at the precinct, the Election Officers verify the seals prior to opening.
Voting by Mail
The process of voting by mail is very secure, with numerous checks and balances along the way to ensure that ballots are mailed only to voters who request one, and only ballots cast by voters who were issued a ballot will be counted.
To request a ballot, a voter must already be registered to vote in Loudoun County. A mail ballot request can be submitted online or by paper application (PDF). Voters can also choose to request ‘permanent’ absentee, which means they will be sent a ballot for every election until they opt-out.
Only staff in the Office of Elections and Voter Registration can approve a mail ballot request. Staff verifies voter eligibility and then approves the request, triggering the process for mailing the ballot once available. Under a Virginia law adopted in 2021, (Section 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia), general registrars in Virginia may contract with a third-party vendor for the printing, assembly, and mailing of absentee ballots to registered voters who request them. Loudoun has partnered with K&H Printing, one of the largest and most well-regarded ballot mailing companies in the US., to mail absentee ballots.
The typical time from submission of a request for a ballot by mail to receiving the ballot in the mailbox is about three to four days. This time frame is comparable to, and in some cases slightly faster, than mailing the ballots from the Loudoun office due to increased efficiencies and systems utilized by K&H Printing.
Voters who return their ballot by U.S. mail will be able to track their ballot by accessing an online tracking tool through the Loudoun County government website. Once ballots are received at the Office of Elections and Voter Registration, they are immediately marked as returned in the state voter registration system. Voters will be able to check the state website to confirm receipt.
Ballot Printing, Custody and Security
Voters can rest assured that we continuously account for all ballots printed for and provided to Loudoun County. Our office submits a ballot order to the printer and then, prior to using or deploying any ballots for the election, verifies that the correct number was received at the office.