On November 8, the National Association of Counties released a new fact sheet on the critical role counties play in administering and ensuring the integrity of America’s election process. The fact sheet provides information and answers to frequently asked questions about how votes are cast, the security of voting systems and the costs of administering elections.
County officials across the country are traditionally responsible, in partnership with federal, state and other local election officials, for overseeing the allocation of voting machines, managing polling locations and ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the voting process. Since the 2000 elections, and particularly since the enactment of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, America has transitioned from traditional lever machines and paper ballots to more advanced voting technologies such as optical-scan technology, which uses scanners to read marked paper ballots, and direct-recording electronic (DRE) equipment, which allows voters to make their selections via a digital interface that records selections on a digital memory device.
Counties take deliberate steps to ensure the security of voting systems, from ensuring that voting machines are not connected to the internet or to each other, to establishing a specific chain of custody for voting records. While cybersecurity has become a major focus for election officials across America, counties must also consider and prepare for numerous other scenarios that could affect the vote, including natural disasters.
Additionally, counties are often responsible for the cost of running elections. While costs vary widely and are difficult to calculate, county expenditures totaled an estimated $1 billion in 2000. The Help America Vote Act has increased these costs as counties have had to replace traditional voting machines and ensure that new voting machines are properly maintained. Fortunately, states may contribute funds for certain election functions, supplies and voting equipment to offset these costs as necessary.
Ultimately, county officials are at the forefront of America’s election process and take their responsibility for protecting our elections very seriously. Counties fully understand that the citizen vote is the foundation upon which our nation is built and continuously strive to administer elections in a way that is accurate, safe and secure.