Since the 2020 general election, vote-by-mail has been a hot topic. People who previously had nothing to do with mailed communications suddenly became advocates or opponents of the methods counties and other jurisdictions used to receive and count ballots. Much of the information on which people base their opinions comes from sources with little understanding of the technology and security built into absentee ballot processing.
Election officials in smaller communities, who had always handled their absentee ballots with manual processes, assume an automated solution must be complicated and expensive. That is not true, but we’ve spoken to many officials that assumed their size excluded them from a modern ballot intake and verification system.
This article answers questions commonly on the minds of election officials from small to medium size voting districts and explains how Tritek Technologies’ Correct Elect system can work for them.
1. What About Security?
Naturally, everyone is concerned about security. People with political agendas will scrutinize ballot handling in future elections. No one wants to be called on to justify or defend their ballot processing workflow that relies on equipment or software vulnerable to questioning by concerned citizens.
Several states have conducted their elections entirely by mail for years, with no more instances of voting irregularities than in areas that rely heavily on in-person polling places. The process is solid and reliable. There simply has not been a problem.
In areas where automation technology has been deployed, ballot processing is faster, easier, and more reliable than the manual methods they replaced. Correct Elect vote-by-mail equipment compares the ballot signatures against the signatures of record for automatic or manual signature verification. The system processes addresses, signatures, and barcodes while storing electronic images of each ballot, complete with the processing date and time. After capturing data and verifying the signatures, the vote-by-mail system sorts the ballots to the proper precincts for tallying.
Though the process is fast, ballots travel through the high-speed equipment with minimal damage. Correct Elect machines even handle ballot designs featuring security flaps. Tritek equipment processed millions of ballots during the 2020 general election with zero customer complaints about jams or damage.
2. Can’t People Vote Twice, Once by Mail and Again in Person?
Cases of double-voting in the United States are extremely rare, probably because the penalties are severe. Voter fraud is a third-degree felony with punishment of up to a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison. Violators will also go to jail if they impersonate someone else, steal ballots, or forge a signature. The impact of an undetected double-vote is miniscule. Candidates and ballot measures rarely win or lose by a single vote in local elections and never in national contests. In short, the reward of voter fraud doesn’t justify the risk, so voters almost never try it.
Should a voter, either with malice or by mistake, attempt to vote twice, security built into the automated system will prevent their ballots from being counted more than once.
If a voter at a polling station tries to vote again after already voting via an absentee ballot, the electronic poll books, updated with information supplied by Correct Elect, will show their ballot had already been received. Poll workers will not allow them access to a voting booth, or they will direct the voter to complete a provisional ballot. If by some chance a second vote slips through, the election computer system identifies two votes from the same voter and only counts the first one received.
3. Do Ballot Sorting Machines Sit Idle Between Elections?
Ballot sorting equipment from Tritek is used to sort regular mail, not just ballots. Many cities and counties find that using the Correct Elect equipment every day allows them to distribute incoming mail to individuals and departments faster and with lower labor costs. Between elections, their investment in mail sorting technology continues to provide value.
4. Isn’t Vote-by-Mail Technology Only for Districts with Big Budgets and Lots of Space?
Tritek configures Correct Elect vote-by-mail solutions to fit any size operation. A desktop version is ideal for offices where volume is light, or space is an issue. The systems are also expandable. Customers can add sort bins and new features at any time to account for population growth. Tritek designs the equipment to customer specifications and customizes the equipment to meet the requirements of each election district.
5. How Big is a Ballot Sorting Machine?
People see images of large sorting machines such as those used by the US Postal Service and believe they need warehouse-size space to accommodate the equipment. With Tritek multi-pass sorting schemes, ballot processing equipment can sort ballots to the precinct level without consuming lots of floor space. You don’t need a bin for every precinct. This makes it easy for the equipment to fit into your available space.
Tritek Correct Elect Vote-by-Mail Equipment
Tritek features patented vote-by-mail technology. We custom-design and build each vote-by-mail solution according to each voting district’s requirements. This includes floor space availability, volume fluctuations, and ballot designs. Portable and desktop systems are options for lower volume and limited space environments. Sorting bins are customized based on a voting district’s volume requirements.
Tritek’s Correct Elect technology has an exemplary track record at many county election offices.
Tritek holds the exclusive patent on the ballot method and apparatus. The vote-by-mail system provides a full audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting. County election offices save ballot scans in color, gray scale, or black and white. Available options depend on server space and local requirements. Signature verification reduces the labor costs of validation and compliance. The Tritek system verifies signatures with barcodes against a database of registered voters.