WyCo and JoCo Counties Share Vote Counting Security Process on Election Night

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – As the election nears, KSHB 41 News spoke to Kansas election officials about the ballot counting process.

John David Smith, a 20-year-old voter, says he has confidence and believes in the electoral process.

“If you don’t vote, you have no say,” Smith said. “They’re hand counted more than once, and if you can’t live with that then you better stay home.”

Ahead of the election, election officials in Wyandotte and Johnson counties want people to know their vote is safe.

Michael Abbott, the Wyandotte County election commissioner, said his office was trying to release the results 30 minutes after the polls close at seven a.m.

“We usually try to get the first results by 7:30 a.m., and that’s all the early voting, and any ballots we got in the mail,” he said. “Then when the polls start bringing the ballots back, we’re going to start feeding them into the machines, and then we still start feeding the results in.”

Abbot said once voting is complete at all Wyandotte polling stations, his team waits for the ballots to come back to the election office.

“They come back in sealed storage bags and we track those seals in the morning,” he said. “They break them, they check them, they seal them. That night before they come back to our office, we check those seals to make sure they haven’t been tampered with.”

Abbott said the machine the ballots are fed into is called an 850 scanner.

“(It’s) an optical digital scanner and we can’t start compiling until 7 p.m. on election night,” Abbott said. “But those machines will start feeding those ballots and that machine will take a copier and a physical image of that ballot and start counting.”

Fred Sherman, Johnson County Elections Commissioner, said the county uses a voter-verified paper audit trail.

“That means everyone who votes or votes does so on a paper ballot,” he said.

Sherman said the paper ballots are then inserted into a centralized tabulator and each voter deposits that ballot into that scanning device.

“It takes a digital image of that ballot from both sides, but it also compiles the content runs on that ballot that’s being cast,” he said.

After the votes are counted, they are secured on an encrypted USB device, Sherman said.

“Once the polls closed on election day, we went through a process of closing each polling station and then sealing that USB drive in this transfer bag that had a security seal on it to make sure the chain of custody is considered,” Sherman said.

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