Investigation of ballot tampering unwarranted

A recent letter to the editor asserted that an election investigation is warranted. I don’t think so. There are layers of protection to guard elections. Having served as an Elections Official in the past, I can offer some facts from my experience.

Every election, some things go wrong. Standard procedures, though, keep things on the proper track, from selection to certification. Local clerks ensure that Republicans and Democrats are working at each place, then training follows. Onsite, the first thing is swearing the oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the state. Any loyalty to a candidate or a party must be set aside. Clerks pretest ballots and equipment, but onsite checks are done also. Officials observe and sign statement when all is in order.

The “ballot dumping” that was cited would never be acceptable, but someone could misunderstand the sight of an election worker feeding multiple absentee ballots into the machine. Absentee ballots already verified by the Clerk by confirming registration, residency, and signature sometimes arrive in batches. Onsite, one official opens envelopes and notes ballot numbers but does not view the ballot. Someone else runs them through the machine. Only if machine rejects ballots are they reviewed. If the problem is penciled or circled selections, a duplicate can be made if intent is clear. One Dem and one Republican agree on intent, then one person marks while the other observes. If these conditions cannot be met, it goes into a “spoiled ballot” envelope with a note of explanation.

Someone observing this might think officials are marking ballots to suit their preferences, but that isn’t what is going on. Another concern, “stopping the vote count” never normally happens, although there might be delays. Attempts to stop counting in 2020 have only been Trump campaign lawsuits.

Every ballot is numbered. All ballots must be retained. At the end of the night, everything must be bagged and sealed. All officials observe and sign that this was done. It’s a big headache if someone goofed, because then you don’t balance. If you can’t account for every ballot, it’s going to be a long night, because balancing precedes sealing everything. After that, everything goes to the local Clerk.

The tally is uploaded, although validated provisional ballots may have minor effect later. After County Clerk’s Office checks, all goes to the County Board of Canvassers for examination, then on to State Board. Credible issues can be raised at each level. A partisan belief without evidence won’t trigger an investigation, but clerical errors or attempts at fraudulent voting are addressed.

Over 50 lawsuits brought by Trump campaign have been dismissed for lack of merit. Many judges involved are Trump appointees, but as one of them (Stephanos Bibas), observed: “…calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” — Pegge Adams, Richfield Township