GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The count is on to make Tuesday’s vote official.
Local boards of canvassers started meeting Thursday to make sure the numbers add up. It’s a big part of making sure elections are accurate, secure and transparent.
Among those watching the canvass in a conference room at the Kent County Administration Building in downtown Grand Rapids Thursday was League of Women Voters observer Marcia DeVos.
“We’re just here like any other citizen to watch the process and make sure everything’s above board,” DeVos said.
Kent County’s four canvassers, two Republicans and two Democrats, are appointed by the county commission. They sit with county election staff, checking results from the county’s 250 precincts and 250 absentee counting boards. It’s all about the numbers, with canvassers doing things like confirming the number of ballots issued at a precinct is the same as the number of ballots cast.
“This canvass is designed to catch any issues that may have occurred with reporting or technology,” Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons said. “And it’s designed to give voters confidence that the election is accurate.”
The road to the count isn’t perfect. Case in point, the website that Kent County uses to show results to the public went down Tuesday night, even as the actual count continued as it always does.
“We certainly got a lot’s of questions, lots of calls,” Posthumus Lyons said.
The situation did not affect the actual tabulation of votes. Results come into a secured county computer. Two files are then taken from that system, put on a drive and physically transferred into a separate computer that allows the county to display the unofficial vote tally on its website.
“For whatever reason, this is what we’re still trying to determine, those files downloaded zeros in the results report,” Posthumus Lyons said.
The problem was fixed by Wednesday morning. Before that, the clerk’s office set up a workaround so the public could still see the latest data.
“I think what’s most important is that we’re running our election securely and accurately,” the clerk said. “I can assure voters, candidates and anybody who is interested, I can assure that that was the case.”
The Board of Canvassers is affirming that. It will meet as long as it takes to get through all of the numbers and find answers if something seems off.
“That’s why we go through the remarks that were in the poll book: Oh, we had a spoiled ballot — the voter messed up and had to be issued a new ballot,” said Posthumus Lyons, providing an example of information sometimes found in the books. “We can account for that.”
The canvassers’ meetings are open to the public.
“The more knowledge you have, the less concerned you are about things that are maybe inaccurate,” DeVos, the League of Women Voters observer and a retired teacher, said.