Testing the Tabulators

A part of the election process open to the public

LANSING, MI, –This election season, the headlines are chock full of false narratives and disinformation – that voting machines are connected to the internet, that they need to be taken apart and examined, or even eliminated altogether. There is one part of the process however that should give voters comfort:  Public tabulator testing, or the practice by election officials of testing the machines that actually count the ballots. It’s something that’s unfamiliar to many, despite it being an important and transparent part of preparing for every election.

In Michigan, the testing of tabulating machines — formally called logic and accuracy tests — is mandated by state law and must be conducted at least five days ahead of Election Day. The goal of the assessment is to ensure that the machines are working reliably and will accurately count the ballots. The day they’re tested is open to the public and announced in the local paper and over social media, yet year after year, the public rarely attends, and has little-to-no idea this day actually exists. Most city and township clerks report that it’s just them and their staff present to witness the feeding of blank and test ballots to check the tabulator’s software and physical equipment.

Districts around the state — both those that lean Democratic and those that lean Republican — will continue the practice of testing the tabulators for the 2022 cycle. Clerks will be able to offer transparency to the public as they always have and help to debunk myths about election fraud being propagated by Republicans like current Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno — who claims tabulating machines are faulty and that the process of counting ballots is fraught with error. The public’s witnessing tabulator testing firsthand would help restore faith in the election process, show that counting ballots is as secure and legitimate as it has always been, and directly combat conspiracy theories that continue to swirl ahead of November 8.

“Republicans want to keep the 2020 ‘big lie’ about voter fraud alive but fail to participate in a process that would show them how thoroughly and rigorously the system is tested in Michigan before a single ballot is counted,” says Lavora Barnes, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “If they did, they too would see how secure our system is, and all that’s done to keep it that way.”


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