October 25, 2021
What happens with Bannock County ballots on election day? How accurate are the ballot counting machines in use, and how can we be assured they are counting accurately? How is ballot security handled?
These were some of the questions that the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer sought to answer during a tour of the Bannock County Elections office and interview with Julie Hancock, Bannock County Elections Administrator.
During the tour of the Elections office, Hancock answered all our questions, described the process used on election day to count ballots, and showed us the machines used to count ballots, the ballot vault (and security systems used to monitor them), and the room where the counting of ballots takes place.
Bannock County Elections has new machines for counting ballots. All are hard wired (i.e., not connected in any way to the Internet). The machines are plugged into a wall with no phone lines or networking cables in the vicinity. The machines are tested for accuracy prior to elections, with the public, members of the press, and candidates invited to witness the test. For the upcoming election, the machines will be tested tomorrow, Tuesday, October 26 at 2:00 p.m.
Bannock County Elections follows a Ballot Security Plan that is approved by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Some of the protocols include:
- Two or more people must be in the office when ballots are there
- Election Day ballots and tabulation machines are locked in a vault with a keypad and key lock design and a double locking door system
- Only the Elections Administrator and Elections Supervisor have the entry code and key to the ballot vaults and have the only two keys to the outside doors
- The vault always has a security camera on the ballots that is linked into a central security system
- The mail-in ballot opening process is live streamed
- The mail-out and walk-in ballot cans are secured in the vault every night
- The flow of ballots on election night is set up to ensure that counted and uncounted ballots never cross paths
Bannock County Elections also routinely cleans the voter rolls to prevent voter fraud. Reports used to clean the rolls come from the Department of Corrections, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, Vital Statistics, the Interstate Cross Check Program, and other sources.
During the tour and interview, Hancock emphasized how seriously the Bannock County Elections department takes voting integrity. A recent statement by Bannock County Clerk Jason Dixon emphasized this as well, when he said, “We want to ensure voters are confident in the integrity of our voting systems and the way we count ballots. Nothing is more important to our democracy than a secure and accurate election process.”
Learn more about Bannock County Elections by visiting their website, here: Elections | Bannock County