Board of Elections precinct officials test voting machines ahead of general election

Brunswick County voting machines update
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Thousands of ballots go into voting machines before early voting even begins.

“For this election, we’re going to be testing 22 voting machines and that includes the one we’re going to be using at the early voting site,” said Sara LaVere, director of the Brunswick County Board of Elections.

Each machine is counting ballots of every kind to make sure the end tally is accurate. The machine used for early voting will read over 1,000 ballots alone.

“What we’ll have is a test stack with a predetermined number of votes for each candidate,” said elections computer technician Butch Johnson. “We’ll read them through the tabulators themselves and once we close these tabulators, we will verify that predetermined number actually is what we’re reading.”

To be prepared for every situation, some ballots have too many options filled in in order to test the machine’s ability to warn the voter about the mistake. The voter can either choose to throw out the ballot and fill out a new one or submit the ballot as-is. If the voter submits it as-is, the race with the mistake will not be counted.

When the test is over, the machines are set back to zero and stored away until Election Day.

“It’s something we’ve always done so I feel very confident on security,” said Johnson. “Brunswick county takes very good pride in their security of the elections.”

“Statewide, all the elections offices are trying to be more transparent just so people can find comfort with the process and get to know all of the things that we do in order to make sure that there is some integrity in the elections process,” said LaVere.

Brunswick County invites the public to watch the process on a live stream throughout this week:

The machine testing process is just one of many steps to ensure a secure election.

“Following the election, we do a lot of audits to make sure that the number of people that checked in is similar or exactly the same as the number of ballots cast,” said LaVere. “If we can’t match that, we do research to determine what it is and it’s typically an administrative error on part of a precinct official.”

Brunswick County has never had problems with a machine miscounting ballots. One precinct official says he started volunteering with the Board of Elections six years ago after having election integrity concerns of his own, intending to assure himself that the elections were handled correctly. After seeing all the precautions taken behind the scenes, he says the system is safer than he could have imagined.

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