Ocean County assures safeguards will prevent electronic votes from being compromised
Ocean County voters are being assured that when they step into the voting booth on Election Day November 8, safeguards in place will prevent their electronic ballots from being compromised.
The county has been using AVC Advantage voting machine for over ten years, according to Administrator Carl Block.
“We’ve been through Presidential Elections with this machine,” said Block. He pointed out that voting machines in New Jersey are certified by the Secretary of State and that the electronic voting machines have an internal memory, a small flash memory or cartridge, and a back-up paper roll.
When a voter presses the button, the vote is recorded. Block debunked the myth that someone can tell how you voted by knowing what number and line you were.
“Wrong. They do not chronologically keep it. They randomly store it, so you can’t do that, and that’s a requirement of the both federal election commission and the state,” Block said.
Block explained that in addition to the multiple ways of recording the votes, there are separations and security each step of the way from the time the vote is recorded and when it’s actually posted online on the County Clerk’s website.
“At the end of the night officials with the County Board of Elections close the machine down, print the tape which is paper, have a cartridge, which is electronic, and then there’s still an internal memory left in the machine. The machines are then secured and guarded,” said Block.
The tape and the cartridge go through the County Board of elections hands to the municipal clerk, who then puts a cartridge in a reader, which is hooked to our secure network, which is not hooked in the internet, according to Block.
“Those votes are electronically transmitted to the tally server in Toms River, but the cartridge and the back up tape get physically transported, again by an election official, to the county Board of Elections, where they’re then secured,” Block said.
Block added, “The tabulation software is run on a server, and pursuant to both state law and recommendations from the federal election commission and other federal agencies, it is hardened and separated from the rest of any connection to the internet.”
Block explained, the clerk actually copies the numbers from the tabulation software, walks across the room to a separate server, which is a separate loop, that is hooked into the internet, and then downloads them into the PC, and then uploads them to the internet.
“The whole reason for that separation is so nobody can get into the tabulation software and no one can monkey with the results,” said Block.
The cartridges and the tapes are secured and our guarded by Sheriff’s Officers overnight, according to Block, so in the event there is a recount, they can take them out and rerun the cartridges.
“They can compare it to the paper tape, and they got to match, and that obviously is again a protection to make sure everything is in line,” Block said.
Block noted the County has put an enormous amount of resources and attention into security on its entire network in the past two years to protect financial data, personnel data, election data and criminal data. He said individual departments are even secured separately within the network.
Advisories sent out by Homeland Security, the FBI and the Federal Election Commission also have been met, according to Block.
“We are 100 percent compliant with every one of them system wide,” said Block.