Voting machines are tested in public

Voting machine check
Voting machine check(WITN)
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A lot of preparation happens before an election, including testing the voting equipment.

By law, all municipalities are required to conduct a public test of its electronic voting equipment no earlier than 10 days before each election. The testing has been done for many years and is open to the public. The cities of Green Bay and De Pere tested their machines Tuesday morning.

The public testing is a part of the checks and balances in our elections.

“Every time we do this [there is a public notice] and they are welcome to come and observe, and it has been getting more common in recent years that people come out to watch the public test. It’s a great opportunity to learn and that votes are calculated accurately,” De Pere City Clerk Carey Danen said.

Among the ballots that were tested, some purposely had errors to see if the machines would catch them.

“This one is my ‘over-voted’ ballot, so we’re going to want to make sure on the screen it’s going to show me that in this contest I voted for four candidates, I’m only allowed one. Attorney general, three candidates, I was only allowed one. I chose five candidates for secretary of state, only allowed one. And state treasurer, four. It did what I wanted it to do. If you were the voter at this point you would be able to return your ballot and get a new ballot on election day,” Green Bay Deputy City Clerk Jaime Fuge explained.

The testing helps provide transparency but can also be a great lesson for everyone.

“We even one time had a mother and her home-schooled child come in as part of civic lesson to watch public tests, so that was neat too,” Danen said.

A handful of people came to witness the public testing in Green Bay. No one showed up in De Pere, but officials say they want people to turn out.

“I’ve seen an increase in the amount of questions and concerns expressed in the last two, three years because of the climate we’ve been in. It’s caused people to think about the level of confidence in what we’re doing,” said Danen.

There are a lot of pieces that come together to ensure everything runs smoothly while keeping election security a top concern.

“When we receive the encrypted memory sticks that are programmed with the races for an election, that is delivered to us from the county under lock and key with tamper-evident security seal so we have that chain of custody,” the De Pere city clerk told us.

After the tests are conducted, the voting equipment and memory devices are secured and sealed with a tamper-evident seal before the machines are stored in an undisclosed, secured area.

The electronic voting machines are tested in public to offer transparency to the process