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Protecting your vote

Monday, February 4, 2008 | 12:08 p.m. CST; updated 4:47 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Election voter fraud or even rumors of fraud have the potential to undermine the notion of a free democracy. In Boone County, where voter fraud is nearly nonexistent, County Clerk Wendy S. Noren has installed preventive measures to ensure that the Feb. 5 presidential primary goes off without a hitch.

Election Judges

A bipartisan team made up of one Democrat and one Republican deliver absentee ballots to nursing homes to ensure that voters are not intimidated into voting a certain way.

Voter Intimidation

Election judges are trained to keep canvassers and any electioneering at least 25 feet away from the polling stations. Poll workers attend a four-hour training session before the primary.

Strict Absentee Laws

Missouri does not have open absentee voting, which means a family member cannot walk into the clerk’s office with someone else’s ballot. Ballots must be mailed, or the voter must be present.

Change of Address Laws

Even if voters move next door, they still must notify the county clerk’s office of a change of address before voting.

Communication system

A system of pagers, laptops and text messaging at the polls keeps track of voters at polling locations. “I have certain things built in to the system that can real-time check that nobody’s voting more than once,” Noren said.

Software

Software programs are in place to safeguard the county’s Internet list of registered voter information. “There is criteria in there to make sure no one’s doing things to other people’s records,” Noren said. The system can keep track of how often a voter’s information has been accessed online.

Equipment

“Once we finish testing the ballot counting equipment, they’ll be in lock-down,” Noren said. The county uses optical scan and electronic ballot equipment.

Voter Tracking

Voters sign a book with pre-numbered labels that are compared at the end of the election with the number of ballots collected.

Security Seals

Ballots come in packs of 50 that are secured with pre-numbered seals. These are checked the morning of the election. “Between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesday, over 5,000 security seals will be verified,” Noren said.

Security Cameras

The county clerk’s office and the warehouse where election materials are stored are monitored with 24-hour security cameras.

Ballot Tracking

All ballots come with specific stub numbers that are tracked throughout the process. If someone were to make a mistake on a ballot, it would become “spoiled” and that ballot would still be tracked along with the total number of ballots received at the end of the day.

Public Access Registration List

A list of registered Boone County voters is open to the public on the County Clerk’s Web site.

“A clean and transparent voter registration list is another key prevention of fraud,” Noren said.

Mail

If a voter’s information gets sent back to the clerk’s office because of a change of address, it is flagged in the voter registration book before it gets printed.


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Comments

John Schultz February 4, 2008 | 1:54 p.m.

The claim "In Boone County, where voter fraud is nearly nonexistent" seems to need clarification to me. Is the county clerk aware of election fraud of some kind, or is this the opinion of the author?

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