Election accuracy and security are top priorities of the Mason County Elections Department and the County Auditor, Paddy McGuire. Below you will find descriptions of some of the many steps that are taken to ensure that each election we administer is accurate, secure, and transparent. Included are example videos of the tests, procedures, and meetings described.
Vote Tabulation Accuracy
How can we be confident our vote totals are correct? Because we test our tabulation system at least twice every election. The first test is called a Logic and Accuracy Test and it is conducted prior to the election. The second test is called a Random Batch Audit, which is conducted the morning after each election. Descriptions and examples of these tests are provided below.
Logic & Accuracy Testing
Prior to every election, before actual ballots are tabulated, our tabulation system and theAssisted Voting Unitare tested for accuracy. Using a prescribed matrix of votes, sample ballots are marked, scanned, and then tabulated. The totals from the original matrix are then compared to the tabulated votes to ensure the system is counting ballots accurately. Once the test is successfully completed documents attesting to the tabulation system’s accuracy are signed by elections officials and witnesses. All Logic and Accuracy Tests for elections that include state or federal measures/candidates are overseen by representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office.
To ensure the security of the tabulation, the system is not connected to the internet. Additionally, all tests are open to the public and announced through press releases and on the election calendar of this website. To comply with COVID-19 protocols for safety, all tests and meetings are live-streamed.
This is the video of the Logic and Accuracy test for the November 3, 2020, General Election.
Random Batch Audit
The morning after each election, six batches of tabulated ballots are randomly selected as a post-election test to make sure the tabulation system has counted ballots correctly. The test results are documented and recorded. Just as with the Logic and Accuracy Test, these tests are live-streamed for public viewing.
The Random Batch Audit of the 2020 General Election was performed on November 4, 2020. Below is a video of that live-stream.
Election Security Measures
Our department follows all the security procedures prescribed in Washington State law to ensure that ballots and election tabulation equipment are kept safe and tamper-proof. All elections staff and temporary election workers are trained in these procedures and they each take sworn oaths to follow them.
In addition to security procedures, our office has installed video cameras in our ballot processing room. The public can watch a 24/7 live-stream of this area, including the vault in which ballots are sealed, during the entire election cycle, starting from the day processing begins tand ending with the certification of the election by the Canvassing Board. Links to the ballot processing room live-stream are located in theelection calendar.
In the following video, former Election Manager Fina Ormond and Jeff Slakey of iFiber News Radio discuss some of our election security procedures.
The Canvassing Board & Election Certification
The Canvassing Board has the legal responsibility to certify elections and determine what ballots are counted in an election. The Mason County Canvassing Board is made up of the County Auditor, the Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and the County Prosecuting Attorney. The Mason County Board has delegated to the election staff the authority to accept ballots where the signature on the envelope matches what is on the voter registration card. The Board has retained authority to reject ballots.
The Board has two meetings after each election. In the first, the Board goes through the ballots the staff has referred for possible rejection and makes a final determination about whether to count each ballot. The following day, the board meets again to certify the election. All meetings are subject to the Open Meeting Law and are available for live stream.
The following videos show the Ballot Review and Certification meetings for the 2020 General Election.
Mason County welcomes observers to watch the processing of ballots. There are two ways to observe, through our 24/7 live stream, link below, or in person. The live viewing is only available after the ballots are distributed and until the election is certified. To view in person the major political parties can each designate two observers to be in the ballot processing room, contact the Mason County Democratic Party or Mason County Republican Party. If you are not associated with one of these parties but would like to observe please contact the Elections Department for further information.
The ballot processing schedule depends upon the volume of ballots received. We will post the schedule here for processing ballots at least two business days in advance. For the November 2nd, 2021, general, we will be processing ballots on:
*The Ballot Processing Calendar will be posted closer to the current election
Below is the link to the livestream of the ballot processing room:
*Link will be posted once ballots have been distributed