In response...a letter from Election Board Member L.M. Farrell on the Salt Creek election recount

"In response to the Herald Times 12/24/14 recount article and 12/27/14 editorial opinion, I write today as a registered voter of Monroe County who observed the 12/23/14 Salt Creek Trustee election recount from start to finish.  As the Democratic Appointee to the Monroe County Election Board, I have the advantage of being directly familiar with our election processes, as well as Indiana election law, when evaluating this recount.  The Herald Times reporter attended a portion of the recount, but not the entire process.

Our paper-based, optical scan, ballot card voting system was carefully researched and recommended by a group of Monroe County volunteers.  The system was purchased by our County Commissioners and it is known for its security, accuracy, and - very importantly when it comes to recounts - its ability to be fully audited.  Previously used electronic systems did not have this ability.  

To put the recount process into perspective, no one can predict how detailed a judge's orders will be or precisely how the recount will be conducted before it begins.  After polls close on election day, all ballots are secured with a double lock after tallying is complete.  Those ballots remain untouched until a recount legally begins or the statutory deadline for ballots to be disposed of in a responsible manner comes to pass. 

A summary account of my observations during the recount process is as follows: 

Judge Hoff arrived at the Election Center at 8:30am and swore in the three-person commission charged with conducting the recount.  A few general instructions were given by the judge. Otherwise, the election commission was to determine how the recount would proceed. 

The appointed commission chose to first scan the ballots with the scanners used at our polling sites on election day.  These machines require ballots to be hand fed one at a time.  This included the vast majority of the ballots and those ballots were easily located. 

Because some ballots were separated from their precinct on election day, they had to be located in the ballot storage room by a bipartisan team.  This was accomplished efficiently and relatively quickly.  As these ballots were being located, the commission decided to begin tallying votes by hand.  While this hand count was underway, all but two ballots were located.   

Because our current voting system captures a digital picture of each and every ballot, the two outstanding ballots were located via their unique and random bar code and serial number.  This information gave us the location of the batches in the secure ballot room from which the two remaining ballots were retrieved.  

This recount was the first for this voting system and the system performed very well.  The results of this recount perfectly matched the results we reported to the state.  Everyone worked respectfully, collaboratively, efficiently, and professionally.  We all applauded when the recount results were successfully complete. 

The appointed commission members and all the workers who made this recount a successful and educational process have my utmost appreciation for a job well done.

 

Lorraine Merriman Farrell

 

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