Daviess County Clerk Leslie McCarty expressed confidence Thursday that the county will run a tamper-free election next month, and said the machines the county used to count votes can’t be hacked except by physically attacking the machines.
Members of the county board of elections inspected the voting machines that will be used to tabulate early and absentee ballots Thursday morning at the county operations center. The machines that will be used at voting centers on election day will be inspected later this month.
The inspection was actually the second time the machines had been checked: The vendor from which the county purchased the machines about 15 years ago had already set up the machines to make sure the counts all start at zero and ran several test ballots to check for accuracy, McCarty said.
Early voting begins Tuesday at Towne Square Mall, and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. there on weekdays. On Saturdays, early voting will be from 8 a.m. to noon at the Daviess County Courthouse. The county’s vote counting machines do not connect to the internet, McCarty said.
The topic of election interference “hasn’t been a topic at all” when clerks hold teleconferences with state election officials, McCarty said.
“I do feel confident,” McCarty said. “Our state board of elections and the Secretary of State’s office has worked really hard to make sure (the election) is secure.”
Of the county’s voting machines, McCarty said the only way they could be tampered with is if a person “would come in and damage the machines.”
The voting machines will have an electronic count that is stored on a drive. The machines will also generate a paper tape of the count that will be posted at the clerk’s office on election night.
The “e-scan” voting machines also use paper ballots, so those ballots can be recounted if needed. Most county voters use e-scan machines, although some voters do vote electronically on e-slate machines. Both machines produce tapes of the ballots cast.
“We do an accuracy test” on the machines, Chief Deputy Clerk Richard House said.
The county is planning to replace its voting machines with new models next year. The e-slate machines were purchased in 2006 and the e-scans were purchased in 2007.
“If you get 10 years out of a machine, you’re doing good,” House said.
Voter check-in at the polling places will be done electronically with e-poll books that do connect with the internet. The e-poll books are on a secure state network, McCarty said
The e-poll books should prevent any attempts by people to vote at more than one voting center on election day, because once a person checks in at a voting center, that information will be available at the other centers, McCarty said.
The e-poll books will also notify workers if a person has voted absentee, McCarty said.
“It would be really hard to do voting centers without” e-poll books, McCarty said. “They talk to each other.”
During the June primary, two people did vote both absentee and in-person, although the county’s system caught the discrepancy. The e-poll books noted that the two had requested absentee ballots, but not that they had actually voted with them, McCarty said. That issue has been corrected, she said.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Friday, Oct. 9. A person can request an absentee ballot at www.GoVoteKy.com.
As of Thursday morning, 12,100 absentee ballots had been requested, McCarty said.
During the primary, the county had 18,000 votes cast by absentee ballot. The number of ballots cast by absentee ballot is expected to be fewer than originally projected, McCarty said.
“With the absentee ballots, they thought they were going to do 40%,” McCarty said.