Election Day security part of the ballot counting process - Tucson News Now

Election Day security part of the ballot counting process

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona primary election is coming up Tuesday and just ahead of it Tucson News Now took a look at the safeguards elections officials say are in place, especially in the wake of the report that hackers tried to steal voter registration data in Arizona and Illinois a few months ago.

Arizona officials say the hackers did not get any Arizona data.

Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said Pima and Maricopa Counties keep their own voter registration databases. They send the information to the state, but the originals are in each county.

Rodriguez said the other 13 counties do use the state system and keep their information there. She said Pima County is always on the lookout for cyber attacks.

"We all have software uploaded looking for foreign things, and not just foreign. It's anything that's unusual that we don't recognize. We all have the software to do that," Rodriguez said.

At the Pima County Elections Department, officials are preparing the machines that count the ballots.

Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson said it's a closed system, not connected to the internet or any other outside communication system. Plus, Nelson said the political parties have observers watching each step of the process.

He said state law requires that county elections workers of different political parties must perform certain procedures together.

An example: Say a voter made a mistake on his mail-in ballot and had to cross out something and change a vote on his ballot, or maybe a ballot came in with a coffee stain on it or something else that prevents the machine from reading it correctly.

That ballot has to be duplicated. Two elections workers will do that. Each has to be from a different political party, they wear wristbands that specify the party.

Nelson showed Tucson News Now the room at Pima County Elections where that happens.

"That's what you'll see happening over my shoulder here. One Republican. One Democrat. And they will duplicate the ballot. So one will read off to another as to what the ballot says. It will be verified by those two and farther on in the process, two more individuals will double-check the first board's work as well," Nelson said.

Two observers were arriving for their shifts.

"We work very closely with the Democrats in making sure that there's always two of us here to discuss if there's any questions or observe what's going on so that we can reassure the public, reassure our people at least, that everything is fine. There's no systemic kinds of issues happening with our elections and every vote is being counted," said Republican Party Observer Karen Schutte.

"I've been doing this for quite a few years and I'm convinced that it's a really good system and that all our ballots are counted and they're counted fairly," said Democratic Party Observer Barbara Tellman.

If you have any questions on election day, including where to vote, or even if you're registered, call the Pima County Recorder's office at 520-724-4330. 

The phone lines open at 6 a.m.

It's too late to mail your mail-in ballot. You can drop off your completed ballot at any polling place.

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