County demonstrates election tabulators

In today’s political climate the issue of election security has become a hot topic.
 Washington County administrators recently invited the Weiser Signal American to the county courthouse in Weiser to see first-hand how  electronic tabulators will be counting your vote on Tuesday.
 There will be one tabulator per polling location for each of the county’s 11 voting precincts. The tabulators were approved for purchase two years ago ahead of the 2020 presidential election from Election Systems & Software (ES&S), headquartered in Omaha, Neb.
 County Clerk Donna Atwood and Deputy Clerk in charge of elections, Michelle Hagans, said the county wants people to know that everything is being done to ensure election integrity.
 Hagans said on Friday, “At the same time, anybody can spin anything whatever way they would like to, and we know that … but there are multiple layers [of security]; it’s not just one thing.” Atwood explained, “The tabulators have to be tested and certified.” 
 Recently, representatives of Idaho’s counties, as well as representatives from the Secretary of State, were invited to visit with the manufacturer to observe security measures that are in place. 
 Tabulators are delivered to each respective polling location, locked and affixed with a special, numbered seal that corresponds to each location and is only broken by a designated poll worker, usually the poll’s chief judge. 
 New seals are affixed after the polls close. The tabulators themselves are just that – tabulation machines that are not connected in any way to the internet and can only be accessed using secure measures. They undergo logic and accuracy testing before going out to polling locations. The tabulator will alert the voter of an overvote. 
 This allows the voter to spoil that ballot and request a new ballot from the poll worker if desired.  
 Once open, poll workers run a zero report to show all contests and candidates have not received any votes.  
 The chief judge and the first voter of the day sign the report. A poll worker will also show the first voter that the ballot box is empty, and no ballots have been cast.
 With the poll now open, ballots are inserted by voters, with the tabulator recording votes, which are stored on an encrypted thumb drive that is removed after the poll closes and uploaded to a computer not connected to the internet. The data is downloaded to a separate thumb drive and then uploaded to the Secretary of State’s secure site.
 The ballot box, with the ballots now inside, are locked and secured, and brought to the Washington County courthouse.  
 The paper ballots must be stored for five years and the tape report, containing the voter counts for all candidates, must be kept for one year.
 The chain of custody always consists of two individuals, either poll workers, deputy clerks or Washington County Sheriff’s deputies.
 County officials have been especially diligent, considering one tabulator experienced a hardware malfunction during a recount stemming from the May primary election.
 “Even though we ended up doing the recount as a hand-count – which meant we had to have two people marking the tally book, one person reading the votes cast, and one person observing every race – we came out exactly the same. There was no discrepancy in the number of votes cast for either candidate.”
 A representative from ES&S will be on hand on Nov. 8 to offer support.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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