Election Judges Test Voting Machines Ahead of Primary – Brainerd Dispatch
BRAINERD — Election officials are diligently preparing for the Aug. 9 primary election.
Crow Wing County judges publicly tested the voting machines this week to demonstrate their accuracy and prepare for the big day.
Judges from every precinct in the county took turns in front of the machines, feeding pre-marked ballots into the slots and making sure the tabulated results matched the numbers already counted.
“They’re checking every aspect of it…and making sure everything is going according to plan,” Administrative Services Manager Deborah Erickson said Thursday, July 28, during the post-test session. midday.
State law dictates that counties must conduct this test before each election and that the process is open to the public and witnessed by at least two judges from different political parties.
The judges tested the voting assistance features for people who are visually impaired or need help voting, and observed how the machines handle incorrectly completed ballots.
Ballots that have too many candidates marked for a race, do not have votes for all applicable races, or have votes that cross party lines for the primary election will trigger an error message on the machine and allow voters to obtain a new ballot. The voter could also choose to cast the wrong ballot if they do not wish to make changes. In this case, the tabulator will count all votes cast correctly while ignoring those that are correct. If a voter casts a ballot with two gubernatorial candidates marked, for example, but only one candidate in other races, the governor’s votes will not be counted but the others will.
While Minnesota uses tabulators with software to count votes, paper ballots are still required in Minnesota for use as the official record of votes. The machines are not connected to the Internet.
“All this machine does is scan the marks that are made on that ballot and come up with this result tape that shows how that voter marked their ballot,” Erickson said.
Members of the public attending the sessions were able to fill out their own test slip if they wanted to see the machines in action for themselves.
Rachel Kohn was the only person besides county staff and election judges present for Thursday afternoon’s testing session. Preparing to be a judge for the first time at Brainerd this year, Kohn wanted to get a feel for the process ahead of the primary.
“I thought it was a great experience and an example for people who were able to do it,” she said. “I can’t wait to go do some of it myself on election day. I don’t know exactly what work I will do, but now I know the process better.
A total of four people showed up for the four sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but operational support supervisor Kathy Toensing said those who came with questions seemed to come away with more confidence in the system than before.
“They didn’t know it involved that much, which is most of the audience I think,” Toensing said. “They don’t realize what’s going on there until they actually see it. I think that’s a good thing — to be transparent and open. Come and ask the question, we will answer it.
Toensing said it was also a great way to see the election judges in action and a small part of the work they do for each election.
“These people who are here are just members of the public,” she said. “It’s people from the community who, they want to get involved. They believe in the system. They believe in elections. They believe in everything. And they are just there to do their part. And like, it could be your neighbor. It could be a friend of yours. It could be a member of the church. It could be anyone. So there are a lot of great people who have put in a lot of time, a lot of days and a lot of effort to create a fair and working election.
THERESA BOURKE can be reached at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.