Keeping votes accurate and honest
Strict procedures and special observers watch over Pima County votes Video by kgun9.comvideo
Ballots are sealed and locked into tamper-resistant cages until the morning of election day
Workers open and verify signatures while observers from both major political parties look on. Then the ballots move on to a secure scanning room with more observers there.
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's a big election.
Many of you have already voted. Others are holding out for Election Day.
But how do officials handle your vote and how do they make sure everything's accurate and honest?
For Pima County voters everything passes through the Elections Center on Country Club, just south of Valencia.
Workers open the sealed envelopes and verify signatures, all while observers from both major parties watch to be sure everything's by the book.
Republican observer Pat Sexton said, "Seeing the whole process it does make you realize that there are a lot of checks and balances to make sure that everything is processed legally and according to the rules."
Democratic observer Gerald Meredith said, "I can tell you where every envelope has gone to. I can tell you where every ballot has gone to. I know the serial numbers where the ballots have been sealed into bags to be transported to the scanning room."
In the scanning room, workers keep a strict accounting of ballots that they scan and make sure all of them count properly. If they see a ballot was damaged, they may make a duplicate with observers watching to make sure the new ballot matches the original.
All stages of the process are on surveillance cameras.
"Hundreds of precinct packages, through the warehouse, down the hall will be going out to the polling places in the span of about 8 days but on election night, the ballots and most of the equipment will come back in the space of a few hours."
The packages are in stout steel cages, with combination locks programmed with fresh combinations each election and those locks stay locked until just before the polls open.
Elections supervisor Brad Nelson said, "When they can officially open that box Tuesday morning before the polls open, there is an accounting of what they do so they have a separate accounting of say, in precinct X you're supposed to receive this many ballots, make sure you have those and that your sample ballots, the ballots that people are getting in the mail today, through the next couple of days actually is for their particular precinct."
The polling places do include some touch screen voting machines mostly for the disabled. Critics question whether they're vulnerable to tampering.
Nine On Your Side asked Brad Nelson about that the touch screens. He said each machine also turns out a paper report you can use to audit the machine for accuracy.
Arizona does have voter ID requirements.
Ideally, voters should provide a photo ID like a drivers license or photo ID from the Federal government or a tribal government. It should show your address, so something like a passport is not accepted.
If voters don't have appropriate photo IDs, the polling place may accept two non photo IDs that prove your address like your voter registration. Utility bills less than 90 days old may also be accepted.