REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — On a day dedicated to getting people registered to vote, voting systems on the Peninsula were being put through the paces in a test six weeks ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election.
San Mateo County’s voting system was undergoing logic and accuracy testing beginning Tuesday morning, holding ballot-counting exercises of the system’s software to verify the votes are being correctly tabulated and recorded, according to the Office of Mark Church, Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder.
“The public and the media are welcome to observe our testing process for accuracy of the tabulation of votes,” said Church in a prepared statement.
KPIX 5 VOTER INFORMATION: Registration, Mail-In Ballots, Absentee Ballots, Polling Places
The county has embraced widespread mail-in balloting since 2015 but Jim Irizarry, the Assistant Chief Elections Officer admitted there is added pressure this year.
“We’re absolutely concerned that there may be misinformation and disinformation that’s out there that is really inaccurate,” he said.
This is the fourth year the Dominion Democracy Suite voting system is used in San Mateo County. The testing was being done at the Registration & Elections Division at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo.
“The public and the media are welcome to observe our testing process for accuracy of the tabulation of votes,” said Church. “Logic and Accuracy testing ensures all voting equipment used in the upcoming election functions properly.”
On Tuesday morning a small group of Republican voters stopped by to watch the testing.
“Being able to come here to observe, I definitely should learn more about how the machine works, how they process the whole thing,” said San Mateo Republican Theresa Chalmers.
But they were only there because there has been doubt raised about the fairness of the system. President Trump has told his followers the only way he can lose is if the election is rigged.
Democrats are convinced the US Postal Service is being sabotaged to prevent voting. Each side feels the other will not be willing to accept the results if their candidate is defeated.
“I’m sure the Democrats won’t trust the election results if they lose, because they’ve never agreed to any election results when it’s not their win,” said Republican Anna Kramer.
“One side will accept it but the other side will definitely not accept it,” said Democrat Angela Miller. When asked if she meant Republicans, she replied “Exactly!”
Safe voting protocols for county polling places were also being installed on Tuesday and polling site equipment was also set to be tested to ensure proper operation and to confirm it was loaded with the correct system software and firmware, as certified by the Secretary of State, who urged people to register to vote Tuesday.
“The 2020 General Election will be the most consequential election in a generation, and voter excitement is at a fever pitch,” said Padilla in a press statement. “But for the many eligible Californians who have yet to register, National Voter Registration Day is the perfect time to sign up. Californians can register to vote in a matter of minutes at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.”
While it may feel like a no-win situation for the elections staff, after five years of gathering and counting ballots without a single irregularity, they are confident they can deliver a fair election. And they don’t care who is looking over their shoulder as they do it.
“We are experienced and know exactly how to administer vote-by-mail elections, which are amongst the safest and securest elections in the United States,” said Irizarry.
In accordance with state law, San Mateo will have in-person voting centers open on election day, even though about 85 percent of voters already use mail-in ballots.
National Voter Registration Day has been observed every fourth Tuesday of September since 2012 to educate eligible voters about what they need to do to make sure their vote is counted in November.
This year, the voter registration day comes as many Americans have already cast their ballots through early voting. With the coronavirus pandemic, what has been typically been a grassroots, door-to-door operation is moving increasingly online.
Every single vote counts this November.
Text 49ERS to 26797 to register today! pic.twitter.com/oqO1miSkrY
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 22, 2020
In California voting will be safe and easy — the way it should be.
Registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail. In person voting centers will be open and safe.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 22, 2020
Social media giants have been putting out the word on with campaigns on getting registered to vote, hoping to reach more people at their homes and on their phones. Facebook has been promoting a week of action with a Virtual Voter Registration Day Drive and a streaming Vote-A-Thon event on Facebook Watch. Google’s doodle on Tuesday is also designed to help users register to vote, while Twitter is offering a registration prompt on users’ timelines.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) September 22, 2020
In California, early voting begins on October 5, 2020. All counties will begin mailing ballots to every active, registered voter in California and voters will be able to vote early, in-person at their county elections office.
Residents should update their voter registration if they move, change their name, or wish to change their political party preference.
October 19 is the deadline to register for the November 3rd election. Voters who miss the deadline can complete the Same-Day Voter Registration process and cast their vote that day at county elections offices and in-person voting locations.
John Ramos contributed to this story.