Mason County uses Clear Ballot to tally your ballot. This system uses version 2.3 of Clear Vote software that is certified by both the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission the Washington Secretary of State. Additional information about the security features of the Clear Ballot system are available here. This system is not connected to the internet. The scanners, tabulators, and servers are enclosed in physically secured rooms with measures taken to help protect against electromagnetic interference. We use cleaned USB drives provided by the Secretary of State’s office to download information from our Clear Ballot system and upload it to the Secretary of State’s Office through the VoteWA system. The USB drives are single use. Our ballot processing center and the server room have a 24/7 security system which provide instantaneous alerts if there is movement after hours. Recordings are archived with each election.
Election Accuracy & Security
Election accuracy and security are top priorities of the Mason County Elections Department and the County Auditor, Steve Duenkel. We work hard to ensure that every legal vote is processed and tabulated correctly in accordance with the law. Below you will find descriptions of some of the many steps that are taken to ensure that each election we conduct is accurate, secure, and transparent.
Vote Tabulation Accuracy
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 the Assisted Voting Unit are 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.
Random Batch Audit
Mason County conducts post-election audits after every election, where precincts and races are selected at random and votes are hand counted. These totals are then compared to the machine county to ensure they match before the election is certified.
Risk Limiting Audits
Mason County has been working with the Washington Secretary of State to pilot another type of post-election audit, called a risk limiting audit. The Secretary of State uses a tool called Arlo to randomize the risk limiting audit.
Statistical Basis for Risk Limiting Audit – By Auditor Steve Duenkel
All tests are open to the public and announced through press releases and on the Observer page.
Election Security Measures
Mason County Elections follows all the security procedures prescribed in Washington State law to ensure that ballots and election tabulation equipment are kept secure. In addition, the Mason County Information Technology team works hard to keep up to date on information about threats to our election systems.
All elections staff and temporary election workers are trained in these procedures and they each take sworn oaths to follow them. Ballot “chain of custody” is of utmost importance, and remains intact from the time ballots are removed from ballot drop boxes or are retrieved from the Shelton Post Office. There are always two trained/qualified people present when ballots are unsealed and being processed, otherwise ballots are physically secured. Ballot drop boxes and storage areas are sealed with numbered seals and document chain of custody.
In addition to physical security measures and chain of custody procedures, our office has video cameras in our ballot processing room and the ballot storage room. Video streaming from these cameras is available for public viewing 24/7 during an election. Links to the ballot processing room live-stream are located on the current election page or observer page.
Voter Registration Lists
Washington’s voter registration system (VoteWA) is continuously updated by all 39 county election staffs as well as the Office of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State works with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Licensing, the Department of Health, the Department of Corrections, and the Office of the Administrator of the Courts to improve the accuracy of voter registration data.
The Secretary of State’s Office regularly provides counties with lists of voters who need to be removed from the voter rolls. These lists include deceased voters, voters in custody of the Department of Corrections, or voters who may be registered in more than one county.
Additionally, Washington State is a member of ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center) that compares voter registration and motor vehicle license data across 30 other states. ERIC uses sophisticated data matching software. ERIC reports can detect when a voter is registered in another state.
With all that said, we still rely on voters to keep their voter registration records updated. If you move or change your name, please visit VoteWA.gov
If a member of your household has died and a ballot is mailed to them, please mark the ballot as undeliverable and write, “deceased” on the envelope. If a ballot is mailed to your home in the name of someone who doesn’t reside with you, please mark the ballot as undeliverable.
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 recorded.
Securing Your Vote: Information about the election process