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Alachua County Canvassing Board Tests Voting Equipment

Supervisor of Elections Kim A. Barton looking over the zero tape printout to verify that no votes were recorded on the machines before running ballots. (Ybik Gaviria/WUFT News)

The Alachua County Canvassing Board tested and sealed 10 selected voting machines on Tuesday morning at the Supervisor of Elections Office in advance of the Nov. 6. general election. 

The procedure, which is open to the public, verifies the logic and accuracy of each piece of voting equipment to make sure counters on the machines correctly tabulate the ballots. Supervisor of Elections Kim A. Barton said the tests are a crucial process to keep county elections safe and secure.

The canvassing board includes Barton, Alachua County Commissioner Mike Byerly and Alachua County Judge Thomas Jaworski. They, along with alternate member Judge Susan Miller-Jones, verified the machines’ count.

Barton said the election equipment is tested to ensure the system is properly programmed, the election is accurately defined on the voting system and communication devices are working properly.

William Boyett, chief deputy supervisor of elections, said that tests on the 10 semi-random selected machines included every race, candidate and amendments on the ballot. He said before processing any ballots, the zero tape printout is run for each machine to ensure that no ballots had been recorded on the machine.

The board also tested two high-speed scanners for counting vote-by-mail ballots on Election Day.

“Many voters cast paper ballots. We use electronic equipment to scan the ballots and quickly transmit results, but the paper ballot remains,” Barton said. “Your ballot is safe.”

Boyett explained that the tabulation machines — voters feed their marked ballots into this equipment — are never connected to the internet. Also, the machines used to receive results from polling places on Election Day are not connected to the internet. 

Ballots and election equipment are secured with tamper-evident seals and transported to polling places in secure containers, operations director David Thomas said. 

He said 124 voting machines will be delivered Thursday and Friday prior to the election, then returned two to three days afterwards. Each precinct receives two voting machines. 

“I came to see the testing out of curiosity because I think all elections are important,” said Gainesville resident Ted Dobracki. “They’re following proper procedures and I believe they’ll be ready for all the people voting.”

Alachua County voters will decide on 12 constitutional amendments, two referendums for Alachua County and two for the city of Gainesville. Early voting starts on Oct. 22 through Nov. 3.

About Ybik Gaviria

Ybik is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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