Election 2022: Douglas County tests voting machines

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Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 4:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Voting soon begins for the 2022 general election.

Before every election, the Douglas County Election Commissioner fires up the machines that count the ballots.

Officials say the machines were in perfect running condition during Monday’s test run, and they’re also safe and secure.

The machine counts 250 pieces of paper per minute. Douglas County Election officials are making sure the nine vote-counting machines are up to speed and accurate.

The testing of these machines started well before the week of the election and they will be tested after all ballots are counted.

“Before we ever print a ballot we do multiple test decks,” said Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse. “Then after the election, we do an extensive audit process, the Secretary of State’s office will pick random races and random precincts for us to do a hand count on, and so there’s numerous processes from the beginning to the end. These machines are extremely accurate.”

There are dozens of poll watchers in Douglas County this Election Day

Douglas County officials say not only are these counting machines in good order and accurate, they are also free from any outside interference.

“They’re not hooked to each other or to the internet and you know what machines do what humans tell them to do.”

Douglas County’s vote-counting machines started counting early ballots Monday.

“State law permits us to count early votes today on Monday. Now, we never see the results. I don’t see the results until like 7:30, quarter-to-eight tomorrow night right before they get pushed out to the public.

“So we’ve had about 80,000 early voting ballots turned into our office already and those are already to be counted, so we will count those today and the results will be stored in our vault until tomorrow night and those will be the first results reported at 8 p.m. tomorrow night.”

Thousands have voted early in Douglas County and many more are expected to Tuesday

Monday is also the last day of in-person early voting in Douglas County. Officials say more than 100,000 early ballots were sent out.

“There’s no question during the pandemic voters became much more familiar with early voting, so in the presidential general we had 63% of voters vote early,” Kruse said. “This time around I think we will be pretty evenly split.”

Officials expect anywhere from 102,000 to 105,000 voters to go to the polls and cast their ballots in person.

In Pottawattamie County, early voting is not as brisk as their neighbors on the other side of the river.

“Early voting is kind of down from where it was four years ago, about half, and I couldn’t tell you why,” Pottawattamie Auditor Melvyn Houser said. “One of the parties that normally sends out request forms their party members did not this year that might have been one reason.”

Houser is hoping the lack of interest in early voting doesn’t carry over to election day.

The Douglas County Election Commissioner is expecting a 57% turnout for this election.

“Which would be on par with 2018, but mid-term elections before that have been in the forties.”

Douglas County election officials say as of Monday morning, about 20,000 of the more than 100,000 early ballots handed out in Douglas County were still out.

Early voting in Pottawattamie County is lower than previous elections