August 4, 2022
Local elections officials conduct public accuracy tests to ensure voting equipment is working effectively ahead of elections
BURNSVILLE – On August 3, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon visited a city elections office to watch local elections officials conduct public accuracy testing of voting equipment ahead of the August 9 Primary Election.
All Minnesota counties and municipalities that are conducting elections are required to administer public accuracy tests within 14 days of every election. These events must be open to all members of the public and observed by at least two election judges from different political parties.
Security Measures for Voting Equipment
Public Accuracy Testing is one security measure regarding voting equipment to ensure Minnesota’s elections are free, fair, secure, and accurate. Other measures include:
- Federal testing and certification of voting equipment conducted by a testing laboratory certified by the Federal Election Assistance Commission.
- State testing and certification of voting equipment conducted by the Office of the Secretary of State.
- Local preliminary accuracy testing of all voting equipment by the responsible county or municipality before every election.
- Local public accuracy testing of select voting equipment by the responsible county or municipality before every election.
- Securing elections equipment and maintaining a documented chain of custody for all elections equipment once the preliminary and public accuracy testing is complete.
- Verification of equipment accuracy through a public hand count of select precincts and races.
Learn more about Minnesota’s election administration at mnvotes.gov/facts.
Step-by-Step of the Public Accuracy Test Process
- Election officials create a spreadsheet for each precinct that indicates how they will mark a set of ballots, or test deck, to allocate a certain number of votes to each race and account for various scenarios that may occur during an election, such as overvotes and blank ballots.
- At the public accuracy test, the election officials will first run a “zero tape” on the tabulator. This shows that the vote total is zero for all the contests and issues on the ballot.
- Election officials then compare the list of contests and issues on the “zero tape” with those on the ballots.
- Once an election official has confirmed that the contests appearing on the “zero tape” match the ballot, they will begin running the test deck through the tabulator. The official will document how the machine responds to the various scenarios accounted for in the test.
- After all test ballots have been placed into the tabulator, the official will ensure the tabulator has read the ballots and compiled the results accurately by comparing the results tape and the test deck spreadsheet.
- Before the test concludes, the test spreadsheet, test ballots, certification paperwork, and zero/results tapes from the preliminary and public accuracy testing are sealed in an envelope and a form must be completed.
In election jurisdictions with three or fewer precincts, tabulation equipment from all precincts must be tested at the public accuracy test. If there are more than three precincts in a jurisdiction, at least three precincts must be tested, including one precinct from each congressional district, legislative district, county commissioner district, ward, and school district on the ballot.