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Voting machines pass security test

Photo by Andrew Maciejewski/Huntington Herald-Press COUNT:Huntington County Voter Registration andElection Deputy Pam Fowler checks voter equipement Friday, during the annual test to ensure the machines are accurate and secure.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

This year’s election isn’t without issues, but after the Huntington County Clerk’s Office performed their state-required audit of election equipment, Friday, the department is confident that Huntington County is prepared for the upcoming election, Nov. 6. 

Last week, Indiana’s chief election official announced that some voters who’ve applied for absentee ballots through the Democratic Party may not recieve one, after the applications issued did not include all of the instructions, which are required under state law unless special permission is granted. 

Secretary of State (SOS) Connie Lawson said there could be “hundreds of thousands” of innadequate applications sent out this year, but the office approved their use on a temporary basis, according to a SOS press release. 

Huntington County Voter Registration and Election Deputy Pam Fowler said the Huntington County Clerk’s office will be accepting and processing the flawed absentee applications, which is allowed under a signed Order from the Indiana Election Division. 

After dealing with the absentee ballot issues, Fowler said she is confident that Huntington County’s voting system is secure and prepared for election day.

“We take election security very seriously because this is one of the main parts of the clerk’s office – voter registration and election work,” Fowler said. “It’s a huge part of what the clerk’s office takes care of, so you have to focus on that. It’s not just twice a year, it’s all year long because things can happen in between and you have to be prepared for that, as well.”

She said they always prepare for the worst scenario to ensure every vote is accounted for. 

“You wouldn’t think that anyone would mess with little old Huntington, but I think we have to plan for that eventuality because it could happen,” she said. “Our focus is to be prepared just in case. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but who knows.”

Fowler went over some of the safety features unique to our voting system that ensure things are secure. 

She said the MicroVote Infinity voting machines that the county uses cannot be connected to the internet, and the tabulation and programming computuers used to program the voting machines and tabulate results also cannot be connected to teh internet. Each computer is equipped with 300 special security settings, including unique, complex credentials for authentication. 

All computer activity is internally monitored and regularly audited, and to ensure there aren’t votes preloaded on the machines, a “zero” tape must be reviewed, signed and sealed before voting begins. 

These machines are locked and sealed in a secure facility, and at the end of coting, the number of votes cast on each machine is verified to match the number of applications for voting in each precinct. 

The votes for each voting machine are tallied onto a unique “tally card,” and a paper copy of the tally results are printed. The tally remains on the machine until it is programed for the next election. 

A paper audit of each vote record can be preinted after the election, once the tally cards are processed at election headquarters and confirmed. 

These MicroVote machines are certified by the federal government to be secure and accurate, and the machines are subject to independent state examination.

With all of the news floating around election security this year, Fowler said she hopes people know that the Clerk’s Office is staying vigilant and watching out for the county’s votes.  

“Voters can be confident that we have it all under control and that they can vote safely.”