At Tuesday’s meeting the Faribault County Board of Commissioners received demonstration of the voting machine to be used in the November Midterm Elections.
The meeting began with County Auditor, Darren Esser introducing himself, and stating that the purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate to the public the accuracy of the computer program and voting system to be used during the upcoming general elections.
The demonstration was planned ahead of the election, as it is done prior to every election, but was also done amid a vocal minority in the county questioning the validity of the machines themselves and how they process voters ballots.
At the start of the meeting, a county resident addressed the commissioner board, stating, “I voted for you, and I trust you, but I do question the validity of the machines.”
County Auditor Esser understood the concern and was prepared to put the group of concerned citizens within the conference room at ease through his demonstration.
As test ballots were filled, printed, checked, and checked again for process, Esser was happy to answer questions while he and the staff of the auditors office simultaneously carried out their demonstration. As they were troubleshooting the system in preparation for their mock polling, a few ballots printed with slight inconsistencies. These ballots were then marked as “spoiled” and set aside for secure destruction at a later time. Once the troubleshooting completed, the auditor staff felt comfortable proceeding with their mock ballot counting. As they poured over tickets and print outs to make sure everything was accurate, Esser continued to answer questions.
One member of the group questioned the use of pen types-ball point versus gel pens. It had already been stated that gel pens didn’t dry quickly enough and could smudge, thus rendering a marked choice on the ballot to be misread. This concern was immediately remedied as Esser stated that gel pens were not permitted for use, and the optimal pens for voting are provided at every election booth.
This trend repeated many times, wherein a question of concern would be asked, and Esser was able to quickly reassure the group with answers addressing the concerns, many of which were backed up with planned oversight and appropriate checks in place.
Esser noted that most problems arise only when voters mishandle their ballots, or do not mark their choices appropriately, making it difficult for the machine to register their ballots accordingly. It is imperative that voters read the instructions carefully, and fill out their ballot as clearly and as well intended as possible.
As the process continued and finished, the mock ballots were processed through the same machines that will be used for election day and were indeed processed without issue.
Election day is on Tuesday November 8th and the County Auditors office and County Commissioners are confident that their machines and staff will handle voters ballots securely and appropriately.