Wired.com reported last week that two counties in New York State would be participating in a program to test new software by Clear Ballot that speeds election results audits. Clear Ballot indicated that Monroe and Schenectady counties would be participating. The New York State Board of Elections confirmed the Wired article, but Monroe County officials are unfamiliar with the company and its product.
The United States Election Assistance Commission recently created a grant program to research methods to improve the logistics of Election Day voting, as well as recounts and audits of ballot results. The State of New York Board of Elections was awarded $230,000. The state contracted with Clear Ballot to test its systems for post-election audits.
Via Twitter, I asked Clear Ballot ( @clearballot ) which two counties would be participating in the program. Clear Ballot responded Monroe and Schenectady Counties would be participating:
@dragonflyeye We’re working directly with the NY State Board of Elections, and then Monroe and Schenectady counties.
That tweet has since been removed.
State officials say the new pilot program will not be done with live ballots, but with ballots from this September’s primary elections. The counties of Monroe and Schenectady were selected as test centers because they tally votes using different ballot scanning systems.
Monroe County Board of Elections Commissioner Tom Ferrarese replied via email to my query that they had been contacted about a potential test of a new ballot counting system. But they said they have not heard anything further from the State:
A few months ago the State Board of Elections asked us if we, the Monroe County Board of Elections, would at some point in the future be willing to participate in a pilot testing a new system that would allow us to audit ballots using high speed scanners in an independently programmed system. We indicated that we would be willing to do so. Since then, we have heard nothing back from the State Board and are not in communications with the Clear Ballot folks nor were we even aware of their existence.
Mr. Ferrarese further stated that they would not feel comfortable changing their hand-count auditing system for this election cycle, which he says has worked well for the County in the past.
It’s not clear why the state would use Election Day to run tests, if the tests don’t require live ballots. Perhaps Wired.com story got that part of the story wrong.
I contacted Schenectady County Board of Elections officials to find out if they knew anything about Clear Ballot, but they have not yet responded.