County Auditor prepares voting machines for Primary Election

Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines tests every voting machine to help protect against voter and election fraud. (Driftless Multimedia photo by Zach Jensen)

The 2024 Primary Election is just around the corner on Tuesday, June 4, and Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines prepared for voting machines well in advance by making sure each machine to be used in the election is working properly and cannot be tampered with.

“These machines are tested extensively before they go to the polls,” said Steines. “I put a memory stick in each machine, and I put a little seal on it, so the only way to get the memory stick out is to break the seal. That way, we know nobody’s tampered with the memory stick.”

Each memory stick seal has its own number, which the auditor records for an added level of security, and the machines are programmed to not count ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

One of the primary steps in checking the machines is making sure the date and time are set correctly, because as Steines said, “There’s nothing more frustrating than have poll workers call on election morning, saying the machine won’t turn on, because it’s not set to the right day.”

Steines then makes sure the machine counts one ballot and only one ballot at a time. To do that, he first tries to insert two ballots and then inserts one ballot — to teach the machine the difference between the thickness of one ballot versus the thickness of two ballots. 

Full article in the May 30 Public Opinion newspaper.

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