Thursday, October 6, 2016

ELECTIONS 101: From Marlene Wainscott, Bates County Clerk

The election process begins long before Election Day. Candidate filings, ballot printing, selection of judges/workers, absentee voting, election worker training, and publication of election notices are just a few of the many tasks performed.

The long election days are now gone. The polling place hours were the same as now, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., but the manual counting of the ballots extended the Election Day until the early hours of the next day. Errors made by the poll workers are a thing of the past. The optical scan machine tabulates the votes when the ballot is fed by the voter.

Steps are taken by the poll workers to ensure the integrity of elections. Unvoted ballots are initialed by the judges. During the day the judges make sure the number of ballots cast matches the number of voters that have signed the poll pad. These steps guarantee that no one can stuff the ballot box.

At the close of Election Day the Supervisory Judges, consisting of a Democrat and a Republican, return the election materials including the voted ballots in a sealed container. The transport media with totals are downloaded and printed for the unofficial election night results. This also eliminates the chance for human error.

Following the election the results are verified by a Democrat and Republican team. A precinct is selected by the team and races are manually tallied to match the machine totals. The election is certified after the verification team has completed the canvass.

Bates County can be proud that the election process is fair and honest, with checks and balances to ensure the integrity of every vote cast.