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Elko County, Nev., May Change Voting Tech for Public Trust

In Nevada, Elko County commissioners have asked the county clerk to consider alternatives to Dominion voting machines, the election technology that the county has been using since 2004.

voting machine stickers
(TNS) — Elko County Clerk Kris Jakeman said Wednesday that she is happy with the Dominion Voting Systems machines the county has been using, but she will investigate possible alternatives in response to a request from the Elko County commissioners.

Lee Hoffman, chairman of the Elko County Republican Party, was at Wednesday's county commission meeting to ask the county to look into replacing the Dominion machines. He read a resolution approved by the Elko County Republican Party.

"Whereas there is evidence of vote count tampering in places where Dominion voting machines have been used, especially in metropolitan areas in swing states," the resolution says, "the Elko County Republican Party ... strongly urges the Elko County Board of Commissioners and the Elko County Clerk to investigate alternatives to the Dominion voting machines currently in use in Elko County and to cancel the contract with Dominion if necessary ..."

The resolution also says the Elko County Republican Party "recognizes that implementation of alternatives would have associated costs, but asserts that election integrity is worth finding the necessary funding ..."

Hoffman said this request does not question the quality of the elections in Elko County.

"My compliments to Clerk Jakeman and her staff," Hoffman said. "They are helpful, cooperative, open and efficient. When I look at election results in Elko County, I see no indications of tampering. I believe that the elections in Elko County have been well-managed, well-run and fair."

He said looking into changing voting machines is part of an overall effort to rebuild more confidence in the election process in the country.

"Public trust in the results of elections is as important as the results themselves," Hoffman said. "There is a great deal of public mistrust across this country in Dominion machines."

"I don't believe the Dominion machines are why President Trump lost the election," Hoffman said toward the end of Wednesday's discussion. "That's not what this is about. This is really about trying to rebuild public trust."

Hoffman said the commissioners cannot direct Jakeman to investigate alternatives to Dominion machines, but they can make a request.

"I am here today asking only that you request or encourage the clerk to investigate alternatives, and to achieve the hoped-for final result, you will have to find and provide the needed resources of funding and personnel," Hoffman said.

The commissioners agreed that it would be worthwhile to ask Jakeman to get some more information on possible alternatives to the Dominion machines.

"I share the national concern that the last election was stolen by the same people that hounded President Trump through his whole administration," Commissioner Rex Steninger said, and he talked about what he sees as some of the election irregularities.

"Something fishy happened," Steninger said. "I'm comfortable that it did not happen here in Elko County."

Commissioner Jon Karr said he did not agree with all of Steninger's comments, but "I will agree that if Kris wants to look and make sure this is the best choice with the Dominions, or it's smarter to go with another machine, I'm a hundred percent on board with looking at it. And I'm not going to be biased either way, when you come back and say, nope, Dominion is the way to go, or the other machine is the way to go."

During public comment, Gil Hernandez asked why this was being addressed in Elko County, where there was no problem with the election.

"I don't think it should be coming up here," Hernandez said. "I think it is something that maybe should be a statewide deal, if we're looking at fraud or whatever."

Jakeman said to the commissioners, "We're not opposed to looking at other alternatives, but I did want to state for the record that we fully believe in the Dominion voting machines and tabulation equipment. We've had a great partnership with them since 2004."

The Nevada Secretary of State's office says only two mechanical voting systems are currently approved for use in Nevada — Dominion Voting Systems and Election Systems and Software (ES&S). All the counties in Nevada currently use Dominion systems, and Carson City uses ES&S.

Jakeman said after Wednesday's meeting that she has already been in contact with ES&S.

"I am actually waiting for some packets from ES&S for information about their system and their pricing," Jakeman said. "There may be a chance that we have them come here and set up and do a demonstration."

Jakeman said Elko County paid more than $300,000 in 2017 for the Dominion equipment the county is currently using. The county has a contract with Dominion through 2025. The county pays yearly licensing fees for Dominion's firmware and software, and also pays fees for election setup.

"I don't know what kind of penalties there might be if they break that contract," Jakeman said.

The Dominion machines are not connected to the Internet, Jakeman said.

"The electronic poll books are connected for our check in, so we have real-time check-in of voters, but the machines are not," Jakeman said. "We do have a paper backup of every vote, on a verifiable paper audit trail ... Those paper ballots, we do maintain those for 22 months."

The county clerk's office will be quite busy for a while with the special election coming up Dec. 14, but after that will have more time to compare the Dominion and ES&S systems.


During Wednesday's county commission meeting Hoffman read a letter he received from Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske suggesting that the Elko County Republican Party's resolution about Dominion Voting Systems may contribute to the lack of voter confidence which the resolution says it is addressing.

"The Elko County Republican Party resolution dated Nov. 8, 2021 contains inaccuracies that have the potential to degrade voter confidence in the Nevada electoral process," the letter from the secretary of state's office says. "This notice is provided to correct those inaccuracies."

"The allegations that Dominion Voting Systems machines inaccurately counted votes in Antrim County, Michigan, and Maricopa County, Arizona are demonstrably false," the letter says, and provides links to further information.

"All Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Nevada have passed a rigorous federal, state and county certification process," the letter says.

"Dominion has been successfully serving Elko County for more than ten years and we value our longtime relationship with the county," Dominion Voting Systems said in response to request for comment. "The U.S. national intelligence community has repeatedly confirmed there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.

"And yet the situation in Elko County underscores how deeply Dominion has been damaged as a result of the defamatory statements made about it. In fact, Dominion systems are now arguably the most vetted voting machines in the U.S., having been put to the test in over 1,000 hand-count audits and recounts.

"If there were ever any questions about any election in Elko County, including the election taking place in a few weeks, the county's voting machines produce voter-verifiable paper records to ensure confidence and integrity in results," the statement from Dominion concludes.

©2021 Elko Daily Free Press, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.