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Collier Supervisor of Elections Office holds first canvassing board meeting and tests voting equipment ahead of August Primary

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John Davis, WGCU
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Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office staff testing voting tabulation equipment ahead of the Aug. 23 primary election

The Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office conducted its logic and accuracy testing of voting equipment and held the first canvassing board meeting in preparation for the Aug. 23 primary election.

Testing of ballot tabulation equipment is required under Florida statute before every election. The process is open to the public and about two dozen people came out to observe the test.

“We are extremely pleased that people are willing to come out and spend their day with us because we are hopeful that it builds confidence in what we’re doing,” said Collier Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards.

“We are transparent. We even give transparency tours when we’re not right in the election mode.”

Edwards said voting equipment is tested for accuracy through a kind of ‘mock election.’

“We actually do a predetermined test. We predetermine the results and we test the ballots that are used in vote-by-mail as well as the ones used in the early voting polling sites as well as on election day. After they have been voted, then we run them through the tabulation equipment and we ensure that the results of those tested here today match the predetermined results.”

The testing took place in the Supervisor of Elections Office operations facility where tabulation equipment is stored and organized by designated precinct location. Canvassing board members, including a county judge who serves as chief, a county commissioner and the elections supervisor, are required to randomly select two tabulation machines each to include in the accuracy testing.

Tuesday’s first canvassing board meeting was primarily an orientation before they begin making major decisions about the election.

“For instance, when it comes to signatures we’re unable to verify on vote by mail ballots. Each one of those signatures that we consider mismatched will be presented to the canvassing board and they take a vote on whether that ballot can move forward or not based on whether the signature matches,” said Collier Supervisor of Elections Office Public Relations Officer Trish Robertson.

“So, that’s just one of those particular decisions that they make.”

Elections Supervisor Edwards said she considers Tuesday’s meeting and voting machine testing the “kick-off” for the primary election.

“We’re at the point now where this is the first major step…demonstrating to the public that the tabulation equipment works properly.”

Once paperwork confirming the successful test is submitted to the Florida Division of Elections, county election staff will be able to begin tabulating vote-by-mail ballots. More than 70,000 vote-by-mail ballots have already been sent to registered voters in Collier County this month. The final day to request a vote-by-mail ballot for next month’s primary is Aug. 13.

Aug. 13 - 20 marks the window for early voting in the primary election. Voters looking to send their ballots through the mail are advised to do so at least one week before the election. Anyone with questions about mail-in voting, early voting sites, or election day precinct locations is advised to contact their county supervisor of elections office or visit their website.

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