#4ThePeople: Spokane County Elections Office runs through security measures ahead of primary election

SPOKANE, Wash. – Election security continues to be at the forefront of voters’ minds as Washington approaches the primary election.

The Spokane County Elections Office says it takes multiple measures to ensure votes are safe. More than 350,000 ballots are already on their way to Spokane County voters for the primary. That’s about an average number of voters for an election this size, said Vicky Dalton, the Spokane County Auditor.

Work is already underway to make sure votes will be counted accurately and correctly.

On Thursday, elections workers did a logic and accuracy test, which is done before every election. Sample test ballots are counted to make sure equipment works correctly before the big day.

“It goes through the tabulation machines, through our software, to make sure it is adding everything up properly. Those images, those results are flushed out, so they aren’t mixed in with real ballots,” said Dalton.

In her more than two decades of serving as auditor, Dalton feels election security has changed tremendously.

“With vote-by-mail, we’re much more centralized rather than having 200 plus locations for poll sites,” Dalton said. “We have one central location for processing and we have one additional vote center in Spokane Valley. It’s a much tighter operation.”

The office is secure and there are multiple security measures taken to ensure ballots are safe. Dalton says rooms are under lock and key. Everyone also needs badges to get through certain rooms. There are cameras around, too, as ballots and people are monitored.

“We make sure there are two people with any open ballots,” Dalton said.

Dalton added that Washington elections offices are protected from cybersecurity threats, working with the Washington Secretary of State as well as the Washington National Guard.

“I would say we are one of the leading states in the nation for the protection of our voter registration databases and election management systems,” Dalton said.

Some changes to this year’s elections operations include offices needing to send voter pamphlets home with any voter. That was not the case for every election in the past. Dalton added that signatures on ballot envelopes are no longer allowed to be released to be public through copies.

READ: #4ThePeople: How to register to vote in Washington