Moffat County officials want voters to know local elections are secure
There are several ways to vote in the upcoming election but no matter how residents cast their ballots, the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office takes several steps to help ensure elections are safe, secure and accurate.
Prior to every election, all equipment is publicly tested. A bipartisan team of election judges conducts a Logic and Accuracy Test to verify the voting system equipment is properly configured and programmed to accurately tabulate votes.
“We must verify the voting system was set up correctly by marking, scanning and then verifying by hand the voting system’s tabulation of test ballots,” Moffat County Elections Coordinator Sarah Colding said in a statement on Oct. 7.
According to Colding, the LAT verifies that the system correctly records all valid votes, under votes, over votes, and blank votes. The LAT for the upcoming November election was held on Wednesday, Oct. 13, and the tests are open to the public as space-permits.
Neither the tabulation machine nor the voting machines are ever connected to the internet, Colding said.
“What the voting machines are for is voters with disabilities,” Colding said, adding that the machines have different functions to adjust font size, screen color output, and audio ballot functionality.
The electronic voting machines produce a paper ballot, which the voter can review for accuracy. The paper ballot is then returned to the election office, where it is counted in an observable setting by a bipartisan team.
Colding said she wants people to know that they don’t have to use electronic voting machines. Voters can hand mark an in-person paper ballot or vote on the ballot that was mailed to them. Hand-marked ballots can be mailed back or dropped off at the ballot drop box, which is located on the east side of the courthouse building.
During the election, the processing of ballots is under video surveillance beginning 60 days before the election and ending 30 days after the election. All secure areas, including areas where ballots are tabulated, must have access logs.
According to Colding, the Colorado ballot retention period is 25 months following the election, which exceeds the federal requirement of 22 months.
“Our office is responsible for adhering to Colorado law,” Colding said.
After the election, a bipartisan team of judge’s conducts a Risk Limiting Audit, a pot-election audit that gives a statistical level of confidence that the outcome of the election is correct.
“In other words, after we perform the Risk Limiting Audit, we can say that there is a high probability that the reported winners accurately reflect how voters marked their ballot,” Colding said.
Colding also explained that if the Risk Limiting Audit ever flags an inaccuracy in the local election, there would be a second round of audits performed. If there is a probability of inaccuracy in the second round of audits it would require a recount.
“We’ve never had a second-round audit in Moffat County,” Colding said. “And a recount has never happened in Colorado.”
All counties must submit a security plan and an election plan to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office 60 days prior to the election. Staff at the Secretary of State’s office conduct on-site security audits in randomly selected counties to verify compliance with the reported security protocols.
The Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office continues to provide information through CORA requests and other means to ensure that those wanting information are able to access it.
Colding also said that Senate Bill 22-1273 — which protects election workers from intimidation or retaliation and went into effect on March 1 — will help ensure the safety and security of local elections.
“I have lived in Moffat County since 2001 and I am a member of this community” Colding said. “I trust in our elections. Colorado’s elections are secure. Everyone can be confident that their vote is counted accurately and the results reflect the will of eligible Coloradans.”
For any questions about elections, contact the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office at 970-824-9120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a part of my job, I get to work alongside our amazing election judges. If you decide to come vote in person, you will probably recognize some of the people that serve as our election officials and elected judges. In many cases, they might be your friends, family members, or neighbors. You see them at the grocery store or the park.
All of us here in the election office are what make our democracy work and an important reason why our elections are so strong. Our election judges are trained to ensure that voters are able to cast ballots without problems.
All election officials and election judges must undergo background checks. They set up and prepare each polling location, welcome voters, verify voter registration, issue ballots, make sure the public understands the voting process, demonstrate how to use voting equipment, and so much more.
Without them our elections simply would not function. Unfortunately, political disinformation about our elections has led to harassment of some of our election officials and election judges across the state of Colorado.
I believe no election official should face political pressure, threats, or intimidation for doing their jobs and protecting the integrity of our elections. If we want to maintain a functioning democracy we must keep our elections free, fair, and safe. Anyone who threatened an election worker or their family must be held accountable.
Many Americans are unsure of how the process works — and that’s okay. What’s not okay is doing nothing constructive to ensure that our voting system remains open, free and secure. I especially encourage Moffat County Voters who might be skeptical about the system to work as an election judge. They will then see for themselves how many checks and balances there are in the system.
It’s important that voters from all sides, both parties, and all communities participate in this process.
Sarah Colding, Moffat County Elections Coordinator
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