How election supervisors ensure your vote counts

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — In just eight days millions of Floridians will head to the polls, bubble in the dots and submit their ballot in the 2022 General Election.

But what happens to your ballot after it leaves your hands? And how can you be confident your vote will count?

Action News Jax spent the day with Duval’s election supervisor to answer those very questions.

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Supervisor Mike Hogan walked us through the whole process from the initial set up of the voting machines to the post-election audits.

The process of ensuring a fair and accurate election begins at the end of the election before it.

Hogan told us each voting machine has its memory erased and prints a receipt showing the machine is zeroed out.

“Then we test it just to see if it, you know, can count some ballots,” said Hogan.

The memory is erased once again, and the machine gives another zero receipt.

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Then it’s locked away until the next election, not to be brought out again until the public pre-audit.

“And so, we’ll tabulate. If the results are exact, then we sign off on that receipt. Then of course the last thing we’ll do is to tell it to wipe its memory,” said Hogan.

The machines are locked, sealed and sent to polling places where they’re stored in locked rooms.

When they’re brought out on election morning, they’re zeroed out one last time.

The machine is ready to count your vote.

But, people make mistakes on ballots.

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“The way some people mark some of their ballots, it’s crazy,” said Hogan.

Over votes, or voting for two candidates in one race, will make the machine spit your vote back out.

Hogan said those who vote in person have three tries to get it right.

“We’re playing baseball. The third time no more chances,” said Hogan.

Once your ballot is accepted by the machine you can be confident it will count.

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Even if the machine were to make a mistake, the paper ballots are retained in a locked compartment within the body of the machine.

“I got the ballot in the bottom down there that is I have to hand count, I can hand count,” said Hogan.

The paper ballot is considered an audit point, but it’s not the only one.

Each individual polling place has least eight audit points supervisors can refer back to in the event any numbers don’t line up.

“I’m satisfied with it. I don’t feel any sense of fear about the count,” said Hogan.

During the 2018 recount Hogan’s office had to recount more than 384,000 ballots.

The count was off by two and because of those audit points, it was discovered one ballot had been fed twice and the error was corrected.

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