KEENE, N.H. (WHDH) - Just two weeks away from the New Hampshire primary, people are preparing to voice their choice and election officials are making sure they are ready to hear it.
7NEWS was granted an inside look at ballot machine testing in the Granite State as cities and towns prepare for the “first-in-the-nation” presidential primary.
As the day draws closer, election officials are doing all they can to ensure the ballot box counts are accurate.
These machines are called “Accu-Vote O.S.” and date back to the 1990s.
7NEWS was there as election officials ran tests in Keene — 50 test ballots were put through the machines twice.
“It starts at zero and it counts every ballot that goes through every time.” Deputy City Clerk of Keene Bill Dow explained. “We know there’s going to be a set number at the end of the process.”
All of the ballots were randomly filled out and some even contained intentional errors.
One marked with red ink, another displaying a vote for two candidates.
“That’s what’s called an over-vote,” Dow said. “That gets canceled out automatically by the machine.”
Ballots were fed in all different directions and officials say, all of Keene’s machines passed the test.
“These machines are very accurate, every time we test,” Dow said.
However, some say that this method of counting votes is old-fashioned and feel it should be retired.
“We, the American people, must demand that elections are verified at the end,” national elections activist John Brakey said. “That’s where New Hampshire needs to work with this whole system because it’s very hackable.”
Election activists are pushing for a new system that would make a digital copy of each vote cast — this would require all new machines.
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office told 7NEWS that their current ballot machines are secure because they are not connected to the internet.
In a statement, they said, “The ‘Accu-Vote O.S.’ has been a workhorse counting New Hampshire ballots for nearly three decades. During that time, there has been no evidence of malicious tampering with those devices. This fact has been confirmed by hundreds of hand recounts that have been conducted over the years while these machines have been in service.”
In Keene, officials say they are expecting 10,000 voters to cast ballots on Feb. 11 and they say they are ready.
“I’ll be honest with you, the more mistakes I’ve seen are in the hand-counting,” Dow said. “Human error.”
For now, the ballot machines will be sealed and the memory cards that contain the program that reads the ballots will be locked away inside Keene City Hall.
They will not be touched again until Primary Day.
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