As the start of early voting nears and news of Russian interference continues to make headlines, Hamilton County’s administrator of elections said local citizens can feel secure in the practices that protect the integrity of the ballot box. “Hamilton County takes the safeguarding of both our physical and cyber infrastructure very seriously,” Election Administrator Kerry Steelman said via email. “The rigorous system of checks and balances in both the registration and voting process should instill confidence in voters that Hamilton County’s elections will not be compromised.” In an effort to avoid interference, some state officials recently said they’d move away from the use of touch-screen voting machines. Some experts also recently said that audits can confirm there’s no meddling.
Locally, election officials use paper ballots as well as pre-and-postelection audits to help ensure accuracy. Machines tabulate paper ballots, and encrypted memory cards with tamper-evident seals store the vote count. Auditors certify the seals in pre-and-postelection inspections of the machines, Steelman said.
The audits are open to the public.
Ballot creation and machine programming is also done locally, which saves taxpayer money, he said. “Many counties in Tennessee are reliant on outside vendors to construct ballots and program their elections,” he also said. “However, we are fortunate to have an elections programmer on the election commission staff.”