Voting Security and Integrity

Dominion Tabulators have been approved through the federal Election Assistance Commission and then tested and approved by the State of Minnesota.

Before each election, the tabulators are checked for accuracy by running test ballots through each of the program cards that tabulate the ballots. This is before a second test – a public accuracy test that is open to the public to view.

These tests are verified by 2 election judges – one from each major political party.

The result tapes are saved with the test deck for each precinct and the tabulator is cleared. 

Just before 7 a.m. on Election Day, the election judges run a tape that shows the date, time of day and that there are no votes on the tabulator.

Vote tabulators are not connected to the Internet, WiFi or cloud computing services when polls are open.

Once polls close, election judges run a summary tape that must balance the number of voter signatures slips to the number indicated on the poll pad to the number of actual ballots in the tabulator to the count on the tabulator. 

They must also record any spoiled ballots, the total number of ballots received and the number of new registered voters. 

They also record any write-in votes for any offices.

All of this is signed off on the summary tape from the tabulator by election judges from both major political parties.

Election judges will connect the modem to transmit the results to the County. Each election year, the County gets new modem numbers from Verizon and they are only activated during the election period and then they are canceled after each general election.

The voting data is encrypted when it is sent and is received into a secure election server that is independent from the County’s main server site. 

The judges get a confirmation that the results have been transmitted successfully. They then call the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office to get verbal confirmation that the results have been transmitted. 

The County adds absentee ballot totals for each precinct and uploads the totals to the Secretary of State’s election portal.

Election judges then turn off tabulators, pull the modems and memory cards and place them in metal transfer cases along with signed summary tapes. The cases are sealed and initialed by the election judges. 

The ballots are sealed in the ballot boxes and initialed by the election judges, again of different political parties. 

Election judges have 24 hours to bring all voted and unvoted ballots, supplies and poll pads to the Auditor’s office. They are to be delivered by election judges representing both major political parties. 

The tabulators are stored at the History Center in Becker, in a climate-controlled environment. Access to the election equipment at the History Center is restricted to a small group of History Center staff. 

The tabulators are secured in a vault that is card key access only. Periodic checks are done for insurance purposes to assure the tabulators are there and accounted for.

The Auditor’s Office has two staff members that review the summary tapes from township and city polling places. They compare the totals to what has been submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office. 

Once every precinct is verified an “Abstract of Votes Cast” report is run. 

That reports the votes cast for each candidate in each race, by precinct, and it gives the number of accepted regular, military, and overseas absentee ballots and mail ballots, and federal only absentee ballots and presidential only absentee ballots. It also gives the number of persons registered as of 7 a.m. and the number that registered on Election Day and the total number of persons voting. This is presented to the Canvasing Board, which reviews and certifies the results. 

The Canvassing Board also randomly selects three precincts to have ballots hand counted at the Public Equipment Review of the election tabulators.

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. 

Sealed election ballots are kept in a locked secured room for 22 months, which is the retention period for election ballots and summary tapes.

Finally, all of Sherburne County’s election equipment will be updated with the most recently certified software versions. Our current server is being replaced with a new certified version as well. 

This will be ready for testing for the Primary Election on Aug. 9.