Did you know that before each election the County Clerk’s office checks to make sure that the machines recording your votes are operating correctly and recording your votes accurately? The test is required by statute and the public, as well as candidates and reporters, may attend. Recently, Deputy Registrar Ann P was one of the two members of the public to attend the test prior to the November 6 mid-term election. Here’s her account of the process.
10/12/18, Ann P:
In Champaign County, after you mark your ballot, you insert your ballot into what’s called a tabulator. The tabulator reads your ballot, records and counts each vote, and produces a tape that records the number of people who voted in the precinct and the votes cast for each candidate. These tapes and all the paper ballots are saved and can be accessed for recounts.
Before each election, the County Clerk’s office checks all the voting tabulators to make sure they are recording ballots correctly. The clerk’s office sets a day when members of the public, representatives of political parties, and the press can watch the test. The clerk’s staff select tabulators for 10 precincts to test; the staff creates a set of mocked-up ballots specific to each precinct to use for the test.
This morning, I participated along with one member of the press. I helped feed mocked-up ballots into 2 of the 10 test tabulators. After the mocked-up ballots were fed into the machine, a staff member and I compared the machine tape of all the votes with the predetermined list of what should be there. Both tabulators I helped with checked out perfectly. This is the same process used for all tabulators.
The test records were then removed from the card used in the tabulator to record votes, and that card was sealed inside the machine. When election judges set up the tabulator in the precinct for the election, they make sure the seal is intact and in place.
Given concerns about ballot security, I’d recommend participating in this public test before the elections in 2020. Attending the test increased my understanding about voting security and gave me a chance to ask questions about the process.
Ann P reports that the test she attended was filmed. She found the official County Clerk’s video on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ChampaignCountyClerk/videos/176395606610223/ (Oct. 12, 2018, Public Test of Election Equipment for the Nov. 6, 2018, General Election).
Thanks to Ann P for sharing her experiences! Many of us are concerned about election security. It helps to know what processes are in place and how we can monitor them in the future.