Election transparency ensures security in Scott County

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - After the polls closed on Tuesday’s midterm primary election in Iowa, Scott County voting officials had to count ballots from 66 different precincts.

The county saw some changes to the primary that made securing it a bit more challenging logistically. On top of all the precincts, the Scott County Auditor’s Office added five early voting satellite locations for the first time in a primary since 2010.

While turnout for primaries is typically low, Auditor Kerri Tompkins said that doesn’t necessarily make her office’s role in protecting elections any easier.

“There’s lots of prep work that goes into putting on an election. That starts months before,” Tompkins said. “ When we close up shop on election day, the next morning, we’re are they working on the next election.”

Automated voting machines tabulate the paper ballots voters use. None of those machines are connected to the internet.

According to Tompkins securing votes is all about redundancy.

“When we get the reports at the end of the night, it is on a USB drive,” Tompkins said. “It also comes with a paper report. So we match that to make sure that everything is matching.”

The Elections Performance Index of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology measures a few different metrics like voter turnout and the number of contested ballots. The EPI ranked Iowa third out of all 50 states and Washington D.C. in 2020.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said it takes trust in the different levels of government to accomplish that rank.

“We’re very good at what we do,” Pate said. “It’s the partnership we have between the county level and the state level. We’ve got county auditors who are on the front line who are making sure this works.”

Transparency for elections starts with a pre-election audit. Scott County’s audit was on May 25. During the audit voters were able to cast a test ballot to see how the machines work.

Tompkins said the best way to trust the process is to be a part of it.

“We need poll workers all the time to help run those poll sites,” Tompkins said. “What’s awesome is that when people come in to vote, they see hey, that’s my neighbor, you know, so they know that, okay, that’s somebody who I trust. And I know.”>

There’s still one more step in ensuring voting integrity as the state will run a state-wide post-election audit on Wednesday. The state selects one precinct per county and elections officials will hand-count ballots to ensure everything was in working order.

Coinciding with Tuesday’s primaries Secretary Pate’s office launched the Election Security in Iowa webpage that breaks down the process for voters.

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