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Idaho state officials implement new audit system to ensure safe and secure voting

Until Idaho's latest legislative session, Idaho was one of nine states in the country that didn’t have a statutory audit as a requirement.

BOISE, Idaho — State officials are taking steps toward ensuring Idaho’s safe and secure voting.

Until Idaho's latest legislative session, Idaho was one of nine states in the country that didn’t have a statutory audit as a requirement. For the May Primary election, the state of Idaho has implemented an audit process to keep elections safe and secure.

“It’s really important that voters know that their vote is important and it's counted and it's secure,” said Sharee Spragee, Power County Clerk and current President of the Clerks Association.

“The error really occurs in the human process of collecting or counting ballots,” she said.

While Idaho has a great track record of election integrity Chas Houck, Chief Deputy Secretary of State said auditing is something that has been top of mind.

“It’s, not something that is reactive, it's been something that we have been working towards steadily since 2017 2018 its been one of the secretary's priorities to put in place but unfortunately it takes time,” Houck said.

The time has come, and starting this election season, eight counties out of Idaho’s 44 will be chosen at random to be audited.

“If we see something that is out of line, it gives us the opportunity as the statute was passed, to be able to go in a do a further audit of some other process,” Houck said.

When a certain county is chosen, the counted ballots are placed in a safe place, under local law enforcement supervision. Not long after that, the auditing process begins.

“We have a team that will show up and go in, that team consists of a secretary of state, elections employees as well as a republican representative appointed by the partners and a democratic appointed representative,” Houck said.

“The starting point of this audit is the hand recount, the complete hand recount, of a subsection of the paper ballots themselves in some cases that will validate inevitably that the machine that counted those ballots was accurately calibrated and did a proper job of counting those ballots or didn't.”

He added, that in some cases, counties may not use electronic tabulations, which would mean the auditors would audit the accuracy of the humans that tallies those votes in the first place.

Houck says some of the results will be going back to Boise State University to validate their mathematical method and provide statistical evidence.

Houck said some challenges with the new system are logistics and time.

“We have a very narrow window to do the work in, we have to get teams out across a state that's as large as Idaho is and we are playing with a deck of cards that has 44 cards in it, we are going to randomly select 8 of them,” Houck said.

For more Idaho voter information click here.

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