Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend

Who Touches Your Ballot?

No one touches your ballot except to count it! No one changes your votes! No one throws your ballot away! No one dances naked on top of your ballot!

No one wants to talk about the boring truth: Your ballot, once it’s been counted, sits in a sealed box. Ho hum.

After the 2020 election, claims of voter fraud spread like wildfire, almost all of them without a shred of evidence. But evidence wasn’t necessary—people who claim fraud only need to create doubt. Creating doubt is one of the most powerful ways to manipulate US citizens. (Just ask the tobacco companies and climate change deniers—doubt is all you need.)

Perhaps a little doubt has crept into your trust in the election system……so let’s start the discussion with ballots. Sensitive election materials like ballots are counted, sealed, logged, or otherwise tracked as they move from place to place. Election officials have been doing this for years—they know how to make sure people can’t cheat. (And the companies that print the ballots are considered critical parts of the process, so those companies are experts in physical and cyber security.)

Blank ballots arrive at your polling place packaged up. Two poll workers open the package, inspect the blank ballots, initial them, and count them. When you come to vote, you’re given a ballot. You complete it, then feed it into the vote tabulation machine. This machine is NOT connected to the internet. The box is locked so I can’t casually pop in and remove your ballot.

Your ballot is removed from the box at the end of the day by a Republican and a Democrat together. Your ballot is never alone with a single political party. And poll workers can’t just grab a mess of ballots and steal them. First, they aren’t sorted, so grabbing a handful means you’d get both Rep and Dem ballots. Second, someone from the other party would SEE YOU TAKE THE BALLOTS. Ballots are not little slips of paper you can slip into a pocket. Sheesh.

And you can’t suddenly arrive with 1,500 fake ballots (this would be a heavy stack over a foot high) and start feeding them into the tabulator. EVERYONE in the room would notice and stop you. Off to jail you go.

If 500 ballots arrive at the polling place, 500 ballots must leave. Poll workers cannot go home until the numbers match–marked ballots, unused ballots, and spoiled ballots (“Oops, I marked the wrong candidate. May I please have another ballot?”) Then your ballots are boxed up and sealed. They are delivered by a Democrat and a Republican to the county, where they remain sealed.

There is so much more to say about ballots, but a blog post is not a book. 🙂 

2 Responses

  1. I love CA because I get a mail in ballot with my own bar code for my identity. I fill it out and drop it a secure drop box. I can then track the ballot as it goes through the process of being counted since it has a bar code. I love it. I’ve voted by mail now for over 20 years and the technology has improved with the tracking. I love it, I can watch it.

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The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.


Occasional Newsletter

Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.