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County Commission Communications
A Periodic Column Written by Ed Douglas, Presiding Commissioner

June 25, 2022

Over the last several years (and recently), I have been asked questions about the integrity of our elections. As Presiding Commissioner of our county, I thought it important to determine this for myself so that I could answer these questions. I can't speak for other election processes, particularly in other states in which their laws can be different than in Missouri, but I can relate what I learned about our processes in Livingston County and why I believe these processes ensure that our local elections are honest and accurate. Following are what I believe are important points about our election process:

VOTING MACHINES ARE NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET: Therefore, the machines cannot be compromised by some internet malware.

VOTING MACHINES ARE TESTED PRIOR TO EACH ELECTION: Candidates for each election are invited to attend a testing of the machines in which test ballots are run through and compared with machine counts.

RESULTS ARE TESTED AFTER EACH ACTUAL ELECTION: Members from each party together select a random ward or precinct to hand count the paper ballots and compare them with the machine count of that ward or precinct.

PAPER BALLOTS SERVE AS A BACKUP IN CASE THERE WAS EVER ANY TYPE OF PROBLEM: The paper ballots are always available to confirm machine counts.

VOTERS REQUESTING AN ABSENTEE BALLOT ARE VERIFIED BEFORE BALLOTS ARE SENT OUT: Voters are confirmed by identification and signature. Current Missouri law requires an absentee voter to certify that they are unable to go to the polls on Election Day to vote. A new law that has been passed but not signed by the Governor yet would allow no excuse absentee voting two weeks prior to an election. If signed, this goes into effect in the November election.

AT THE POLLS VOTERS MUST PROVE THEIR IDENTITY BY IDENTIFICATION AND SIGNATURE: The new election law which if signed by the Governor would require a photo ID for identification rather than other types of identification beginning in November.

The question has been asked, should we do away with machines? As mentioned above, with the process and safeguards we have and because all votes are cast on a paper ballot, in my opinion, there is no reason to consider that option. Additionally, doing away with machines would not be legal because ADA equipment is required by state law. Furthermore, the election process would be much slower than necessary; and, again in my opinion, more likely for error from the human error of counting substantial numbers of ballots. Finally, it was determined many years ago that fraud is more likely to occur with the hand count process which resulted in election equipment being implemented. Our County Clerk, Sherry Parks, is on several state committees, and she has collaborated closely with the Secretary of State and other county clerks to make recommendations for improvements to the State Election laws. This input is one of the reasons the new photo identification has been approved by the legislature and on the Governor's desk for signature, which, if signed as expected, will go into law this November. I think this addition is good because it further tightens the election process in Missouri.

I personally think the state laws in Missouri make our election process in our State one of the best in the nation. Several states do not require the voter to request an absentee ballot and verifying the identity of those requests as is done in Missouri but instead mail out ballots to all registered voters. Also, several states allow what is called ballot harvesting in which someone can pick up the ballots of others. In my opinion, both of these procedures used in some other states can undermine the integrity of an election. But again, in Missouri, mailing to all registered voters and ballot harvesting are not allowed under current law.

I think that Missouri election laws are good; and, in our county, I am convinced that our processes and controls ensure the integrity of our elections.

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