▶️ As local ballots pour in, election officials ensure counting machines work flawlessly

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

The Deschutes County Clerk’s office tested its ballot counting system today. The results were flawless.

As of today, about 24% of the 150,000 ballots mailed to registered voters in Deschutes County have been returned to the clerk’s office.

That’s more than double the rate of ballots returned at this stage of the 2016 presidential election.

To make sure they are ready to accurately count the tens of thousands of ballots heading in, the clerk’s office ran more than 2,000 mock ballots through its ballot scanning machines.

“We do this test four times during the election,” said Nancy Blankenship, Deschutes County Clerk. “This is the second test. We do a third test prior to counting the ballots and a fourth test after the election to ensure the scanners are counting properly all throughout the election.”

Two clerk’s office staff compare the test results with what was fed into the scanners to ensure accuracy.

“How’d it turn out?,” Blankenship asked staff.

“Spot on,” one responded.

Meanwhile, at the ballot drop box in front of the clerk’s office, lines of cars queued up with voters dropping their ballots.

Congestion around the Wall Street drop box has gotten so bad, county officials have established clearly marked ballot drop turn lanes to help guide traffic.

This year, a lot of public attention is focused on mail-in voting, security and integrity.

“The last election my husband and I voted in, we dropped it at a mail site about a week ahead of time and then just after the election, maybe a few weeks later, we got a notice in the mail that said our vote didn’t count,” said Bri Fadness, Bend. “So, I decided to walk it over today.”

“Oregon’s been doing this (mail in elections) for years. I think they have it down,” said Marlena Williams, Portland. “I know the postal service is slightly slower than usual, but I still think if you get your ballot in, if you mail it in far ahead of election day, there shouldn’t be any problems.”

“If you are going to mail your ballot, please do not do it any later than next Tuesday, I believe that’s Oct. 27,” Blankenship said. “After that do not mail your ballot. Please take it to one of the drop boxes.”

Whether they are dropped or mailed, county clerks around the state are busy verifying voters’ signatures.

Next week, election board workers will start opening ballots and running them through counting machines to determine how many ballots they have.

The actual votes cast for candidates and issues won’t be tabulated until 8 pm election night, Tuesday, November 3rd.

Blankenship said ballots are processed the same way in every election.

“Depending on the size of the election, it expands and contracts. The processes are all the same. You can be assured that we have done this before, and we will do it again,” she said.

Voters who are concerned about the security of their ballots, whether placed in drop boxes or mailed, can check the status of their ballot at the Secretary of State’s website.

 

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