Stark Auditor ready for 2018 elections
A recently released Center for American Progress election security report gave North Dakota a "C" grade. North Dakota, according to the report, was one of 21 states targeted by a "foreign nation state" during the 2016 presidential election.
Auditor Kay Haag said while Stark County has not had difficulties with voter fraud or had to deal with voter interference, protocols are in place.
"The Secretary of State's office puts out guidelines," she said. "Voter fraud, if somebody voted twice then it goes to the Secretary of State's office, and they take it from there, any kind of fraud."
The county generally has a good voter turnout on election days, Haag said.
"For the presidential election, being there was so much debate going on, we had a bigger turnout," she said.
The first petitions are due April 9 for the June 12 election. Once the petitions have been received, the county will begin putting together the ballot.
"We start with our programming, putting our ballots together, and then they go off to the printers to be printers to be put out for the people to come out to vote," Haag said.
For one week before election day, the county does absentee and early voting at Stark County Courthouse.
"We'll have a set of machines in the main lobby for the first week and then we set up the day before," Haag said.
For elections, the county utilizes the M100 voting machine.
"The M100 is the machine that takes the ballot," Haag said. "When you put it in, if you over-voted or under-voted, you have the opportunity to take that ballot back or just have the machine accept it because that's the way you wanted it."
The county also has an AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal for handicapped citizens.
"You put your ballot in and it reads it to you, or you can do braille," Haag said. "You mark your ballot and the machine takes it, marks in the ovals and spits it back out for them to go put it in the M100."
Between the M100 and county poll workers, the day's results are reliable, Haag said.
"We have the count on the M100, how many people actually voted, and you have your count with the poll books, where you check the person in," she said. "Those counts should match."
Though reliable, the county's voting machines are aging, Haag said.
"They're getting up there, right now," she said. "The Secretary of State's office is looking at the new machines that are out there, and the costs and everything."
Poll workers begin an election day at 7 a.m., and usually are not finished until after 8 p.m.
"It's a busy time," Haag said. "When the workers get there at 7, they start opening up all their machines and running their tapes and seeing everything is up and running properly. If not, we get the phone call. I've got a couple of runners, along with myself, that, if a machine isn't working, we swap it out so they can get up and running."
She added, "It all just falls into place once you get going."
Keeping spirits up is easy, though it does take its toll.
"Most of them who have worked it have done it in the past, so they know what it's like," Haag said. "I lose a few every election. It gets to be too much. Most of the people I have are retired people, so it is a long day for them."
An election day usually ends with excitement, Haag said.
"When the voting is done and they start bringing their stuff in, we process the cards with the votes on it," she said, "and we've got people from the public who come in because we run the results on a big screen."
In addition to the June 12 election, an election will also be held on Nov. 6.