Pima County Elections Department testing ballot counting equipment

Published: Jul. 26, 2016 at 7:16 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 26, 2016 at 8:37 PM MST
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PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - We are five weeks from a very big primary election, and Pima County is already working to make sure your vote counts.

Other Arizona counties have had their fair share of election problems this year. Long lines in the presidential primary last March led to lawsuits.

Then there were more lawsuits over paperwork delays ahead of the May special election.

Pima County has managed to avoid those stumbles, and they want to keep it that way for the critical Aug. 30 primary. Security is the priority inside the ballot counting room at the Pima County Elections Department.

Workers have to have special electronic badges to get in and out. That way the system knows who went in, who left and when.

It's just part of the process to try to ensure that no one can do anything to disrupt or change the vote counting process.

Elections Department Director Brad Nelson said the equipment is state and federally certified. The Elections Department designs a program for each specific election, then there are several tests before election day.

"We design and test that program in house, but we don't stop there. We also have the political parties - the Democrats and the Republican Party - come in and test it independently on their own. And then after that's completed, the Arizona Secretary of State comes in and tests that equipment," Nelson said.

He said the machines themselves are not connected to the internet or any network. The server is in the secure room, too.

"In addition to keeping the system segregated electronically, we physically segregate the system by having electronic card access to this particular room, cameras operating 24 hours a day that also are archived

Tucson News Now talked with a number of voters about whether they felt their votes were secure.

"I think that our best interest is in mind. I absolutely plan on voting. I think it's too important not to vote in any election, but especially this year's presidential election," Elise Lopez said.

"Yes, I feel very secure. I think everything will be as it should be," Mary Wynne said.

"I usually mail my ballot in early. Then I call up to make sure that they got it, and that's worked out quite well. So I'm looking forward to it. I have no worry at all that it'll be counted," Tom Delgado said.

Nelson said 100 percent of polling places will be open. That's about 240 of them in Pima County.

Nelson says his department will mail a sample ballot to every voter household 10 days before election day. Voters' polling places will be on their sample ballots.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is next Monday, Aug. 1.

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