Elections - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of ballots are used in Sherburne County elections?
A: Sherburne County’s voting system combines both paper and computerized records. Paper ballots are marked by the voter and then counted by computerized ballot counters.
Q: Are elections audited?
A: After every federal election, an audit is conducted. The audit reviews a random sample of paper ballots to ensure our ballot scanners provided the correct results. Sherburne County's voting machines were determined to have correctly counted the 2020 election votes. To access a spreadsheet of statewide post-election reviews of the 2020 election, go here.
Q: What is a recount and how is it conducted?
A: A recount is a process to precisely determine the vote count between two candidates whose vote margin is extremely close. During a recount, election officials from both major political parties individually review each ballot that was cast on Election Day.
Q: What triggers an automatic recount? Can a recount be requested and by whom?
A: A publicly funded recount for a federal office, state constitutional office, or judicial office may occur if the difference in the number of votes cast for the apparent winning candidate and any other candidate is less than one-quarter of 1 percent (0.25 percent).
A publicly funded recount of the results of an election for a state legislative office may occur if the difference in the number of votes cast for the apparent winning candidate and any other candidate is less than one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent).
A publicly funded recount may also occur in any race where the difference in votes cast is ten votes or less and the total number of votes cast for the office is 400 or fewer.
A publicly funded recount will occur if the apparent losing candidate requests one by filing a notice with the appropriate filing officer within 48 hours after the canvassing board meeting.
A discretionary recount of the results of an election for federal office, state constitutional office, legislative office, or judicial office can occur at the candidate’s expense if the difference in the number of votes cast for the apparent winning candidate and any other candidate is greater than the threshold for a publicly funded recount. An apparent losing candidate must submit a request for a discretionary recount along with the funds to cover the cost of the recount within five days of the canvass of a primary election or within seven days of the canvass of a general election.
A candidate who requests a discretionary recount may specify up to three precincts to be recounted first; the candidate may waive the remainder of the recount after the specified precincts are recounted.
Q: Has Sherburne County had any recounts and what have the results been?
A: Sherburne County has had several recounts in recent years, including one in 2020 in the Senate District 14 race. There were 39,488 votes cast in that race. The hand recount showed that five more votes were added – three for one candidate and two for another. The result of the hand recount changed the winning margin of that race by one vote.
For more information about recounts, go to the Minnesota Secretary of State's webpage here.
Q: Are accuracy tests done on the election equipment before the election?
A: Before every election, local election officials test all equipment to be used in that election. For the preliminary testing, ballots are marked with assistive voting devices, a set of pre-marked ballots is fed into the ballot tabulators, and the machine's totals are compared with the pre-determined results. Some equipment is also tested at a Public Accuracy Test shortly before the election. Public Accuracy Tests are open to the public—contact your local election official to find the time and location of their next scheduled test. For more information about the equipment used in Minnesota elections, go here.
Q: Are electronic vote counters connected to the Internet when voters are voting?
A: No. There is a prohibition against vote counters being connected to the Internet while voting is occurring. After all voters have finished voting and the polls have closed, the ballot counters print multiple copies (tapes) of the results. After results tapes have printed and balanced, election judges transmit the results electronically to a secured server. These results are then combined with absentee ballot totals and posted to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s results page. For more information about election security, go here.
Q: A certification from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission states that its certification of Dominion Voting equipment is not a “determination that the system is ready for use in an election.” Does that mean that equipment isn’t reliable?
A: State and local governments are still required to test Dominion Voting equipment before elections to assure that it’s operating properly. Sherburne County’s Dominion equipment was tested before the 2020 election and was found to be reliable. The Public Accuracy Tests of those machines are open to the public.
Q: Are voting machines vulnerable to outside attacks because they are running outdated software?
A: Ensuring security is an important piece of the elections held in Sherburne County. Before each election, the County updates its election equipment with the latest and most current software. Similar to past years, as we progress into the 2022 election, the County is updating its Election equipment with the most current versions of software as approved for use in an election. In May, the County completed updating ballot tabulators with current software. In June, we will be receiving our new election servers, including current software.
Q: Did my vote count?
A: If the voter has filled out a ballot application electronically on the Secretary of State’s website and submitted it, that application goes to the County’s queue and is retrieved and processed. The voter will be able to check online where in the ballot is in the counting process. If a ballot is requested via mail or over the counter those are not part of the ballot tracking system.
Q: What is Sherburne County’s credit card security status?
A: Sherburne County takes credit card payment online for several County provided services. In order to provide the highest level of security during financial transactions we do not conduct financial transactions on our website. We link financial transactions directly to the payment platform of our third-party credit processing partner, Forte (https://www.forte.net). Forte provides a fully PCI Certified Secure portal so users can be confident Sherburne County is handling bank, checking, and credit card information in the most secure manner the banking industry provides.
Q: Are poll pads outdated and vulnerable to hacking?
A: Sherburne County utilizes Apple iPads as the hardware for electronic poll books. Election managers maintain Apple iPads on the most recent versions of Apple’s operating system. By keeping current with Apple iOS and patches, this ensures the cybersecurity of electronic poll books at the highest standards possible from the manufacturers. The poll pad system software uses one of the most secure types of encryption to protect and secure communications.
Q: How should someone report hacking of Election Poll Pad, Election Voting equipment, or County networks?
A: Unauthorized attempts to access government networks or election networks are illegal computer activities. If any citizen knows of, or has evidence of, attempted computer network intrusions or hacking of any Sherburne County government networks, poll book tablets, or elections equipment please immediately report these events to the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office at (763) 765-3500.
Q: Does Sherburne County use ballot drop boxes?
A: Sherburne County’s ballot drop box was only utilized for the pandemic in 2020 to assist with minimizing the spread of COVID-19. There are no plans to utilize it in the 2022 Election cycle.
Q: Does Sherburne County have a ballot board trained in the processing and counting of absentee ballots?
A: Yes, for each Election cycle, Election Judges and the Deputy Staff are trained in the process of the Ballot Board and have taken the Election Judge required training.
Q: Do our election judges come from both political parties?
A: Yes. Trained election judges and ballot board judges are required to disclose their party affiliation so we can pair up teams from both political parties. The same teams are not kept together, but are mixed so they don't know who they are working with until we tell them.
Q: Has our election vendor provided its voting system source code to the State of Minnesota?
A: Yes, per Dominion.
Q: Has that source code been examined by an independent third-party evaluator?
A: Yes, per the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. They have escrowed the source code as part of the certification process. A federally accredited testing lab has reviewed the source code.
Q: Do the software vulnerabilities found in Dominion Voting Systems machines in Georgia mean that Minnesota’s Dominion machines are similarly vulnerable?
A: No. The software and hardware used in Minnesota’s Dominion machines is different than the software and hardware used in Georgia.
** The state of Minnesota has created an Elections Facts page that answers commonly asked questions about voting and what makes our elections fair, accurate and secure. You can find that page here.
In response to concerns raised about election integrity, County Administrator Bruce Messelt sent a memo to County Commissioners with an analysis of 2020 election results. You can read that memo here.