Voting machines spark debate, inaction


Recent discussion to hand-count Nov. 8 general election ballots drew a surprising comment from a Faribault County commissioner.

At the County Board’s Oct. 4 meeting, petitions signed by more than 320 residents were presented to commissioners.

Petitioners questioned the accuracy of optical scanning machines used to count ballots, claiming they could be hacked or programmed to change votes.

Commissioner Tom Loveall, who is seeking re-election in District 4, shared their concern and was quoted in a news story as saying, “I am getting more and more skeptical about machines.” tried contacting Loveall for an explanation or clarification of his comment.

Loveall was asked if he would accept or question results of the election. However, he did not respond to an email sent through the county’s website.

Dana Gates, who is challenging Loveall for his four-year term commission seat, says voting machines have been used in the past without serious concerns.

I’m very comfortable taking the results of the voting machines,” says Gates. “As far as accepting the results of the election, that’s the democratic way.”

Two weeks later, at the board’s Oct. 18 meeting, Loveall made a motion to do both machine counting and hand counting.

He says although machines do an accurate job, using both methods would prove that they did. The machine count, he adds, would be the official tally.

County Auditor Darren Esser is reluctant to use both methods of counting because there are no procedures or clear set rules to fix any results discrepancies.

The motion died for lack of second and commissioners did not offer any other motions. So, voting machines will be used in Tuesday’s election.

Commissioners could have considered a resolution written by Esser at the request of a board member.

According to the resolution, commissioners want elections to continue to be free and secure. And, they will express their intent to continue to uphold and protect voter security in Faribault County.

If valid proof, as determined by the County Board of Commissioners, exists of unauthorized access to Faribault County voting machine data, to the extent allowed by law, it will immediately discontinue the use of voting machines in Faribault County for all county, state and federal elections,” says the resolution.

Use of machines would resume, according to the resolution, if the commissioners are confident any possible manipulation has been resolved.

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