Voting machines ready to go after test run-through

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Portable ballot scanners were tested during a public demonstration at the Clanton Recreation Center on Aug. 1.

Probate Judge Robert “Bobby” Martin was present to demonstrate the testing of the machines.

Voting machines are tested each election to properly prepare the machines and ensure their reliability, Don Whitman, technical services manager at Election Systems and Software, said.

Whitman and another technician from Election Systems and Software performed the actual inspection and testing of the voting machines.

Whitman explained that USB thumb drives, referred to as “qualifying sticks,” are inserted into the machine’s computer. Each stick is labeled according to its voting location, and has a security code unique to each election that must match the security code programmed into the computer.

Since the qualifying sticks are the only indicators of voting location, Whitman said they provide greater convenience than in years past for election programming. Machines no longer have to be programmed according to location; just the memory sticks.

Once the security codes are verified to match, sample ballots are inserted in no specific position into the machine, Whitman said.

Each of these ballots are labeled as sample ballots, and they are based on varying ballot styles of different elected positions. This year’s election required a run-through of 27 sample ballots.

Once the computer properly reads the ballots, ballots are stored in the base or “ballot box” of the machine, and a receipt-like roll of paper prints computer documentation of ballot information.

The inspectors then replace the paper roll, regardless of wear, and make sure the computer ballot settings are at zero and “ready to go,” Whitman said.

Machine scanners are then sealed and stored until the election.

Martin said election materials are stored by the county. Since this election is a federal election, Martin said the county is required to store the election materials for 18 months.

For the demonstration, Martin surveyed the testing of a voting machine that used a qualifying stick prepared for the American Legion.

The 2017 US Senate Primary Special Election is set for Aug. 15. Polls we be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.