Clerk’s office steps up election transparency
The public can now access every ballot cast in the November 2016, through a computer program recently employed by the Dane County Clerk’s office.Image By: Jon Yoon
A newly available program that allows the public to access ballots cast in the last presidential race is making Dane County a pioneer in election transparency.
The county clerk’s office is now disclosing every ballot cast from the November election to the public on its website, through the computer program Election Audit Central.
“This was impossible a couple of years ago,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell. “There are people out there who personally request to see these digital images, so why not let everyone see them?”
The program, he said, encourages voters to compare results and researchers to find specific voter patterns for all included on the ballot.
“This allows those people who claimed they were hacked or that something was slightly off to go look and see what really occurred,” said McDonell.
The tabulators used to count ballots in Dane County make this feature possible. The back and front of each ballot is photographed after it is inserted. All images are then randomly stored onto a hard drive to guarantee privacy.
“Because this program randomizes the images, it is not associated with any specific voter so you wouldn’t know who voted for whom or what time their vote was cast,” McDonell said.
McDonell hopes ballots in the future will be able to be saved in PDF form, but the current ones are saved as ZIP files, and need to be opened with downloadable software found on the county website.
Ballots from the most recent primary election in February will be posted within the next few weeks.
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