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I-Team goes in-depth on the ballot reading process in Riverside County

The Riverside County Registrar’s office recently upgraded its elections tabulation equipment made by a company called Dominion.  

In the June primary, problems arose in the state of Georgia where the high tech voting equipment also made by Dominion misfired.

I-Team Reporter Karen Devine speaks with the Registrar about concerns regarding accuracy and how they are making sure every vote is counted securely.

“I’m very confident that the election results are accurate," says Rebecca Spencer, Riverside County Registrar of Voters.

Spencer says the county upgraded its tabulation equipment in 2019, they have ten high powered, Dominion scanning machines that can process ballots at the rate of 140-to-150 per minute.

“We’ve used it in multiple elections, we run logic and accuracy testing on it prior to each election so we go through making sure that it’s tabulating correctly, we also do audits after the election, we hand count the paper ballots to make sure the electronic results match the hand count,” says Spencer.

Dominion election machines are now used in 41 of 58 counties in the State of California.  Touting top of the line cyber safety and up-to-date software.  Voters in the state of Georgia in the June primary ran into other issues.

Long lines of frustrated voters waited to cast their ballots. Many walked away and never did vote.  A report by the Geogia House Governmental Affairs Committee, found general complications with the 100 million dollar, next generation, high tech voting machine.  At older polling places, the new machines blew fuses and poll workers were not trained properly.

According to Georgia Elections Commissioner, Liz Hausmann, “Equipment was delivered late, some of it’s not charged up, the check in folks aren’t really clear what to do”

In response Spencer told Devine, "I am not familiar with the equipment they were using in Georgia, I know Dominion has a number of different versions of their products.  We’ve used this equipment for five different elections and we have had not had any issues with the equipment.”

The voting machines used in Georgia are not being used in Riverside County.  But, residents who vote here in person will be using Dominion touch screens.  They are ballot marking devices that don’t record votes.  The ballot is printed on-site, and placed into a ballot box.  Then that paper ballot is delivered to the registrar and scanned.

Devine asked Spencer how confident she was that voter fraud and foreign interference would not play a role in this election in Riverside County.

Spencer replied, "Our ballot counting room is air-gapped which means it is not connected to another network, so it’s not connected to the internet, it’s not connected to the county network, the server is inside the ballot counting room and only the equipment in that room is connected to the server.”

She went on to say, they run tests to make sure that there are no viruses present on the server.  They also wipe it clean after each election and reinstall the software. And, when it comes to training, even with the County moving back into the purple most restrictive tier, Spencer says they've worked around the challenges.

"We had already planned on doing everything remotely as much as we could or can so we have Zoom training set up for all of our poll workers, they go through the Zoom training and then we have hands-on intensive training for the leads and the assistant leads that will be out at every voting assistance center," says Spencer.

Workers are also getting conflict management training, learning how to de-escalate possible high tempered situations at the voter assistance centers.

There is still time to vote.  You can mail in your ballot, drop it off at 80 different designated locations across the county or vote in person starting Saturday at voter assistance centers.

Statement from Dominion Voting Sytems regarding Georgia primary issues:

"Going into day five of unprecedented levels of early voting across the Peach State, reports of voting machine malfunctions or failures are non-existent. Counties across California, Colorado and other states are also using the same system without issue.

Implementing a new, statewide voting system across all of Georgia’s 159 counties in a major presidential election year would have been challenging even without the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted training efforts and left some counties with significant poll worker shortages. In order to help with these challenges, Dominion is working to recruit and train 3,000 field service technicians for the November 3rd general election."

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Karen Devine

Karen Devine is celebrating her 27th year delivering the local news as an anchor and reporter in the Palm Springs television market. Learn more about Karen here.

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