Voting Systems and RCV

Voting Systems and RCV

The three largest voting systems manufacturers in the U.S. are Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Dominion, and Hart Intercivic. This page describes what level of RCV-readiness is included in the voting systems manufactured by those three vendors, as well as which voting systems are used by jurisdictions with RCV today.

Note that there are systems with varying levels of RCV-readiness outside of those three manufacturers. For example, Unisyn has a federally certified RCV-ready voting system, and Clear Ballot has expressed an interest in incorporating RCV-readiness into its voting systems.

Each of these vendors, and others, replied to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Colorado Secretary of State in 2013 which included a question about RCV-readiness. Their replies can be read here. To see a full list of all systems under test by the EAC, as well as those already certified, visit the EAC website here.


Any voting system manufactured by ES&S that uses its DS-200 tabulator can be used to administer an RCV election, although it may require some modification to do so. Prior to 2013, ES&S developed the EVS system for the RCV elections taking place in Minneapolis (MN). That system included the ability to read ranked ballots and then export all ballot data into a digital file that could be read by commercial off-the-shelf software like Microsoft Excel. ES&S later federally certified the EVS system with that same export function.

If using the ES&S EVS system, an RCV election can include a ballot that allows voters to rank multiple candidates in a grid layout. For example, the ES&S DS-200 tabulator was able to read the ballot used in Portland (ME) in 2011, which allowed voters to rank 15 choices. Then, the system can export all ballot data into a digital file. The jurisdiction can then use any third party or commercial off-the-shelf software to tabulate the results.

ES&S systems are used to administer RCV elections in Minneapolis (MN), Portland (ME), and Takoma Park (MD).


Dominion has indicated its willingness to modify its systems to provide for the ability to read and tabulate ranked ballots. The cost to include that functionality must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Once modified, Dominion systems can read and tabulate ballots internally, at the push of a button. They do not require any additional third party software or other workarounds. All RCV elections conducted on Dominion systems currently are limited to a three-column format, meaning that every candidate is listed once for a voter's first choice, then they are listed again for a second choice, and again for a third choice. However, Dominion has indicated that in future elections using its Democracy Suite 4.14 system, it will be able to accommodate a tighter grid-layout allowing voters to rank more than three candidates.

Dominion systems are used to administer RCV elections in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro (CA).

Hart Intercivic

Hart Intercivic is the only of these three vendors to have a federally certified system tested for RCV ballots. Because Hart systems are not yet used to conduct RCV elections, precise information on its RCV-readiness is less clear. According to Hart representatives, its system can be modified to read and tabulate ranked ballots. The exact capabilities are unclear, but St. Paul, MN will be using a Hart system to conduct its RCV elections in 2017, and they report that the tabulation will be conducted internally, meaning that no third party software or other workaround will be used.

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