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State officials test Pima Co election systems

Keeping the vote accurate
Posted at 2:32 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 21:06:08-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Your chance to vote on who Democrats should run against President Trump starts tomorrow. That's when early voting begins in the Presidential Preference election set for March 17th. Mail ballots should be going out tomorrow too.

But how do you make sure the election count is accurate?

Tuesday, state elections officials checked Pima County's election systems.

Arizona's Secretary of State oversees elections, so an inspection team has been traveling the state making sure election systems are accurate. This was Pima County's turn.

The inspectors bring test ballots. They know the correct vote. Pima elections workers don't.

What happens if they don't match?

Janine Petty is Deputy State Election Director for the Arizona Secretary of State: She says, "Well if that rarely happens, but if it does, we'll go through each vote precinct by precinct and summary results and find out where the discrepancy is determine if it's something in the machine, more often than not, it's somebody that voted incorrectly from the scripts that we brought."

If a defective machine is the problem, Pima County has back up machines certified as ready to use.

The ballot had to be printed way back in December. There were 18 candidates at that time but since then seven have either suspended their campaigns or dropped out altogether. Voters will be informed which ones are on the former candidate list so they don't waste a vote.

These are the candidates who stepped out of the race for the nomination: Deval Patrick, Miichael Bennet, Andrew Yang, John Delaney, Marianne Williamson, Cory Booker and Julián Castro. There could be more by Arizona's vote March 17th. The names will be posted at voting sites but if you're voting by mail you will need to check to see if your favorite candidate is out.

You can do that on this page from the Arizona Secretary of State. It will be updated if other candidates drop out.

The whole inspection effort aims to ensure accuracy and assure voters their vote will count. Pima County made a point of having a system that uses machines for quick counting, but paper ballots to have a paper trail in case there's any question.

Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson says, “Even the specialized touch screens have a paper trail as well an individual who uses that device will actually have a paper ballot, that he or she can verify if they have a vision impairment that they're not able to read that ballot with their with their eyes, they can slide it back into that device and it'll read back to them what their vote is."

There are still more tests ahead for these systems---before Arizona's primary in August and before the Presidential election in November.