IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Cass County, Ind., Election Board Tests New Voting Equipment

The Cass County Election Board held a public test for the electronic voting system Friday morning, during which election officials went through the process of using the voting machines and discussing how they work.

A floating cyan checkmark outlined in cyan appears on the right side of a blue image with many boxes and bits of code floating behind in different shades of blue.
(TNS) — The Cass County Election Board held a public test for the Electronic Voting System Friday morning on the fourth floor of the Cass County Government Building. Secretary of the Cass County Election Board and Cass County Clerk Destry Richey and IT Director Cj Gilsinger went through the process of using the voting machines and how they work.

"[The test] has been state law for as long as I can remember. We have to do it for the primary and we have to do it for the general, and it is open to the public. Usually, we only get one citizen who shows up and so... I wish more people would do it," Richey said. "... I've sent emails out to some of the schools and I was just at Lewis Cass last week... teaching their government classes on election and voter registration and what is allowed and everything. But I know I would be more than happy to give demonstrations at schools or our IT department I don't think would have a problem helping me with that..."

The machines being tested and used in the elections, called Verity Duo, were first introduced to the county in September 2020, according to Gilsinger. During Friday's test, it was also shown how absentee votes are scanned. Gilsinger said when absentee ballots are scanned on a computer, it makes a digital copy of the printed vote record and is tabulated on election night. Richey said absentee ballots are hand delivered to the post office. In addition, Gilsinger said the ballots are scanned in front of a bipartisan election board to resolve any issues that might arise.

"... because with the computers, with the voting equipment, it doesn't allow you to vote wrong. It doesn't allow you to break the rules, but on paper you can accidentally do that," Gilsinger said. "So, that's where we have to go in and make sure we see full voter intent for anything that the computer... sees is not clearly a mark."

According to Gilsinger, all of the election equipment has an encrypted memory card, or the vDrive, that is plugged in. Richey said the drive is placed in a locked section of the machine that only she and Gilsinger have the key for, and it is also sealed with a metal seal with a number on it. This number is documented and checked every morning and evening by a Republican and Democrat to make sure it has not been tampered with, Richey said. The votes are stored on the drives, the particular voting unit and the paper versions, so if something happened to the drives, Gilsinger said the votes would not be lost.

Richey said public voting tests are important because they give the public a chance to see the election equipment and to see how valid it is. She said Indiana and the county want to be as transparent as possible and it also serves as a time to educate and teach people who have questions about the election process and the equipment.

"But we [are] just wanting to get the word out that it's not as scary as a lot of people think. It is secure," Richey said. "We are one of the most secure states in our county because of the equipment that we have is... probably the most, only because we have that paper trail and electronic trail and it coincides."

Gilsinger also said the tests are important to allow people to see the accuracy of the equipment, and he said he has a lot of faith in the equipment. He said during the first election they were used in and when they were randomly selected and audited by the state, the state said it never had an audit prove the level of accuracy as quickly as these machines did. These tests are also important because not everyone is comfortable with computers, Gilsinger said.

"... there's just a lot of hearsay that goes around. And, we had somebody a few years ago, it's probably been ten years ago, say, 'well, there was someone that could play Pac-Man on a voting machine. These are not capable of that," Gilsinger said. "So, this is important for them to come in and see the security measures that are in place... learn about the encryption that takes place, learn about the process and it gives us a chance... for us to say, 'here's what we're voting. We're voting it, and here's the results, and they're the exact same.' So, it should give peace of mind to voters."

The 2023 municipal election is Nov. 7.

© 2023 the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.