Decision 2022: How election authorities protect, count your vote

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Posted at 5:12 AM, Nov 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-07 09:40:46-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, to participate in midterm elections. Polls open at 6 a.m. in Missouri and 7 a.m. in Kansas. Both states require voters to be in line by 7 p.m. to cast their vote.

KSHB 41 News took questions from viewers about the election process to election authorities.

“We want to protect the administration of elections and make sure it's done correctly, but it's not mine, it's the people's and we need to make sure they have the right visibility into the process,” explained Missouri’s Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whose office oversees elections in the state.

In the Kansas City metropolitan area, voters place their ballots into boxes at polling locations. The boxes take a picture of each ballot and place vote information on a USB hard drive within the machine.

“Once the polls have closed on election day, we go through a shutdown process at each polling site and then seal that USB drive into a transfer bag that has a security seal applied to it to make sure the chain of custody is accounted for," Johnson County, Kansas’ election commissioner Fred Sherman explained. "They all come back here to the election office where upload them into a centralized tabulation.”

The centralized tabulation machines also never connect to the internet, so no outside party can hack into the network and alter the votes. The USB drives are encrypted, preventing someone from accessing the information during transportation from the polling site to the election headquarters.

Election leaders do not begin counting votes until 7 p.m. election night, that includes early votes.

“We may start preparing ballots and getting them ready to run through the machines a little bit prior to, but there is nothing that is actually tabulated until 7 o’clock on election night,” explained Shawn Kieffer, one of two directors of elections for Kansas City, Missouri.

Most election office release results as each voting location brings its USB drive to the headquarters, instead of waiting for all votes to be counted and releasing one final list of results. Tuesday night’s results will be unofficial.

“There's about a two-week process that the local election authority will then do,” Ashcroft said. “They want to check the numbers for the polling locations: We sent this many ballots, this many were spoiled, this many people signed in, did it all match up?”

Some voters may fill out a provisional ballot if poll workers have trouble determining their eligibility. In Missouri, election authorities will count provisional ballots after Election Day for the ballots it can determine were in fact valid. In Kansas, local canvassing boards have the final say in whether to include provisional ballots.

Election leaders encourage anyone with questions about the election process to sign up as a poll workers, which are paid positions in both Missouri and Kansas.

KSHB 41 News’ Election Guide highlights some of the important races and changes in each state ahead of the election.