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El Paso County excels in election transparency

Broerman Ballot Auditing Tool Medium.jpeg
Posted at 9:21 PM, Nov 06, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman does not want the public to simply take his word that election results in El Paso County are accurate. He invites us to check his work for ourselves.

The county created the Ballot Audit Tool in 2020 to let the community view election data and compare it with images of every physical ballot cast.

"This is a tool that citizens from the comfort of their own homes can download the digital image of each of those ballots," Broerman explained. "They can see how the machine reads each and every one."

State election law requires ballot counting machines to be certified ahead of each election by passing a logic and accuracy test. The same machines used on Election Night must then pass a risk limiting audit where election judges take samples of ballots and compare the machine tallies to a hand count.

The Ballot Audit Tool expands on that concept by crowd-sourcing the post-election audit. El Paso is one of just a handful of counties in the country that operates with such transparency.

"I think as a representative democracy, it's important that people have the confidence that their voice is heard and that it's heard correctly and recorded correctly," Broerman said.

He knows some voters may distrust Dominion Voting Systems, the state's vendor for ballot-counting machines, following attacks on the company by the Trump campaign in 2020. So, El Paso County pays extra to count the vote again by running ballots through a competing company's machines.

"In the Presidential Election, there were 8 votes different," Broerman recalled. "Our system had eight more votes for President Trump than the other system."

Since the last presidential election, independent filmmakers have raised fears of widespread fraud through the use of "ballot harvesting." The term describes a suspect or suspects, sometimes referred to as mules, who frequently drop off multiple ballots at dropboxes.

Broerman invites the community to watch the live surveillance video at the county's 39 drop box location.

"In the primary, we had over 3,600 hours by which someone was viewing that video and checking, but didn't find any mules," he said. "So far, we're a little over 2,500 hours of viewing in this (midterm) and once again we haven't seen anything that suggests there is fraud that's happening at our drop boxes."

It may take a few weeks before the data from Tuesday's midterm election is publicly available on the Ballot Audit Tool.

Broerman explained that the county must first redact the images of any ballots where voters have made markings or corrections on their ballots. The redactions are done in the interest of protecting voter privacy.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE EL PASO COUNTY BALLOT AUDIT TOOL

Note: new users will need to create a username and password to access to the Ballot Audit Tool data.
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