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Integrity confirmed: Becker County election officials conduct error-free test of election equipment

Becker County election officials conducted an "error-free" test of the county's election equipment in front of officials of both major political parties at the courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 27. Equipment ready for election day on Nov. 8, county auditor/treasurer said.

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Mary Hendrickson, Becker County auditor/treasurer, reads an introductory statement to election judges from both major political parties during an election equipment integrity test at the Becker County Courthouse on Oct. 27, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Election equipment in Becker County is ready for election day after performing an error-free test on Thursday morning under the watchful gaze of county election officials and members of both major political parties.

The Oct. 27 test is mandated by state statute and involved running 39 test ballots, of four different precincts, through the tabulation machines to ensure votes are counted properly.

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A ballot tabulation machine sits idle before an election equipment integrity test at the Becker County Courthouse on Oct. 27, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"Our elections are secure, everything is accurate, and no voter has any concern that Becker County has any issues with the new equipment or with the process," said Mary Hendrickson, Becker County auditor/treasurer. "We're ready to go."

Some test ballots were pre-marked with designated choices, but three ballots from each precinct were marked with specific choices using the OmniBallot tablets, a touch-screen voting machine and printer made available at every Becker County precinct in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The OmniBallot machine takes a voter's ballot into a print tray and marks the corresponding circles according to the voter's choices on the touch-screen.

During the test, one election official incorrectly entered a vote choice in one of the races on the OmniBallot machine and the human error was caught during the ballot cross-check process by the election judges. The incorrect ballot was sequestered and will be saved until the county-wide ballot canvassing is complete and the election results are verified following Nov. 8. The precinct was completely re-tabulated, including the ballots with the correct choices on the OmniBallot machine, and the results were 100% accurate.

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Tanya Hockett, deputy auditor/treasurer for Becker County, pulls the receipt tape of a ballot tabulation machine during an election equipment integrity test at the Becker County Courthouse on Oct. 27, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Tanya Hockett, deputy auditor/treasurer for Becker County, feeds a ballot tabulation machine test ballots during an election equipment integrity test at the Becker County Courthouse on Oct. 27, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"We had to tear off the results and re-run the whole process over again," said Tanya Hockett, deputy auditor/treasurer for Becker County. "Before these (machines) even get tested they've been run through their precinct counter already, twice, once with the back-up card, two, with our election day card, and those are all compared together with two different people and then those are all run through once of our absentee balloting machine, for anybody who has a ballot come in for that, and also through our direct balloting."

Hockett stressed each step of the process is verified by two election judges to provide a check and cross-check for the entire procedure.

Election officials also tested the county's DS450 central count machine that will be used to tabulate absentee and mail-in votes on election night.

Election judges, with at least two hours of elections training, from each major political party were on-hand to verify the county's election equipment integrity test and, both stated, the results were error-free and all the ballots had been verified accurately.

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McKenzie Olson, licensing clerk for Becker County, runs test ballots through a DS450 central count machine during an election equipment integrity test at the Becker County Courthouse on Oct. 27, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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