MILWAUKEE — The primary election is next Tuesday. On Monday, Milwaukee election officials were testing all of the city's voting machines -- and welcomed the public to review that process.
A test of a vote-counting machine in Milwaukee was made public ahead of next week’s primary election.
It’s an effort by election officials to combat any skepticism about fairness and accuracy. Voting machines have become the focus of a lot of conspiracy theories and concerns since the last presidential election.
Only one person showed up to watch the public vote-counting machine test at the Milwaukee Election Commission Monday, and he did not want to be shown on camera. This is standard practice before every election to be transparent while making sure the machines are accurate.
Claire Woodall-Vogg, the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, confirms each of the city’s 180 vote-counting machines has been tested to make sure they are working properly.
As part of the test, we watched the machine tally a pre-determined, marked set of ballots exactly as they are cast. Both city and county officials could then check for accuracy.
“We fed 38 test ballots through, and the machine rejected four of them because they were cross-party voted,” said Woodall-Vogg. “We have a paper ballot for every single voter. We don’t have electronic voting here in Milwaukee County, so in the event of things like an audit or a recount, we have a paper trail for absolutely every part of the election process.”
At the end of election day, a modem is activated on each vote-counting machine, and results are transmitted through a private, secure cellular network.
“It’s not the same network that you and I use on our cell phones,” said Woodall-Vogg. “There is a secure network that the county also maintains on their own private server that receives those results.”
That process was included in Monday's test run.
“The county has confirmed that they’ve received the results and that the results match all those test ballots,” said Woodall-Vogg. “And before election results are certified, both city and county election workers review the numbers at every voting site, making sure that for every ballot, there is a legitimate voter.”
Since only one member of the public showed up to watch a vote-counting machine get tested in Milwaukee, TMJ4 visited an early voting site to gauge how voters are feeling about the process.
“I think there’s a lot of people who are maliciously trying to undermine our voting system, and I’m alarmed by it,” said Leo Ries, who voted early at the Zeidler Municipal Building Monday. “We’ve always used these machines. They’ve proven more accurate than hand counts. I don’t understand why people are suddenly taking issue with them.”