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Testing ballot machines so your vote matters

Posted at 7:30 AM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 07:30:50-04

Election teams are hard at work testing the accuracy of ballot machines ahead of Election Day, ensuring your vote counts November 3.

Ottawa County's elections staff has dedicated a set number of days to run roughly 60 test ballots through each machine or tabulator to make sure they're able to spot any inaccuracies, making sure the machines are in proper working order.

“For example, we also know that if you vote in the straight ticket office, and then go on down the line and vote for a candidate of a different party, the machine needs to be able to recognize that and count that vote appropriately," said Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck.

Roebuck says in order to uphold the integrity of the voting process, machines are never connected to the internet. There's an audit log and paper trail in the process to verify all machine programmers. Multi-factor authentication with security codes also protect machines from being tampered with on Election Day.

Test ballots used during the public accuracy test are then stored at the township hall with the machines for two years at the clerk's office in the event there's ever a question about how the process or tabulators work or during a recount situation.

"This is a transparent process that belongs to our citizens, the people," Roebuck said. "We want to make sure in that public accuracy setting that people know how their votes are being counted and that the programming is correct and accurate."

ADA devices were also tested for Americans with disabilities. Anyone who needs an ADA device can request one at their local precinct.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Thursday, Sept. 24: Early voting begins, absentee ballots begin being mailed
Monday, Oct. 19: Online, postmarked-by voter registration deadline
Tuesday, Oct. 20 through 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3: In-person registration allowed with local clerk
Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.: Deadline to request absentee ballot by mail
Monday, Nov. 2: Absentee/mail-in postmarked-by deadline
Tuesday, Nov. 3: In-person voting