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Ensuring vote count is accurate in Bryan County

Editor’s note: Tom Hand is chairman of the Bryan County Board of Elections. He is writing a series of first-person articles on the mid-term elections.

Hello Bryan County. We are now just 19 days away from the midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022. I thought you might want to know some of the steps we take here in the State of Georgia to ensure the ballot count we get from our voting machines is accurate.

The Georgia Secretary of State has determined that all precincts in Georgia will use electronic voting machines produced by the Dominion Voting Systems Corporation, a Canadian based company. Dominion has been in business since 2002 and in the 2020 Presidential election, 28 states, including Georgia, used their voting machines. For Georgia, that election was the first time the state used Dominion equipment.

To ensure fair elections and to produce trusted results that reflect the will of eligible Georgia voters, the Georgia Elections Division will conduct a “Risk-Limiting Audit” after every November election during even numbered years. Basically, this means all Presidential, United States Congressional, and all Georgia elections such as Governor will be considered for an audit. This does not mean every single race will undergo a “Risk-Limiting Audit” after each election. The determination regarding the specific races to be audited will be made by the Georgia SOS and based on a specific set of criteria. In general, a “Risk-Limiting Audit” will be mandated for all “close” races and anytime there is a reasonable concern that the election process was flawed.

You are probably wondering exactly what a “Risk-Limiting Audit” is and how one is conducted. Essentially, it is a verification step, created by our Georgia legislature and endorsed by Governor Kemp, in which election officials in each county hand-count one batch of ballots cast in that county. Election officials then compare the Dominion machine count from Election Day with the hand count.

To conduct a hand-count audit, election officials will set up two-person counting teams at a public location within the county. Each team will view a ballot, declare what they see, and then record it. The handcount will be overseen by one representative from the Democratic Party and one from the Republican Party. The entire county elections team will also be on-board to assist.

This year’s state-wide audit is slated for Thursday, November 17, starting at 9:00am and continuing until each and every ballot in the identified batch has been hand-counted. Here in Bryan County, the “Risk-Limiting Audit” will be conducted in the Richmond Hill Recreation Center and, importantly, it is open to the public.

For perspective, Bryan County had 21,474 voters participate in the Presidential election of 2020. That year, we conducted a full hand-count of all ballots about two weeks after Election Day to verify that the Dominion count was accurate. Of the 21,474 ballots cast, there were only three disputed ballots. That means that in Bryan County the Dominion machines had a 99.99% accuracy rate. I would say that is pretty good.

Thank you for your time and please remember to vote.

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