Springfield, MO

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Voters in Missouri head to the polls for primary elections today.
Rebecca Green | SBJ
Voters in Missouri head to the polls for primary elections today.

County clerk outlines election security as voters head to the polls

Posted online

Polling locations are open until 7 p.m. today for the statewide primary election.

Voters are choosing local, state and federal candidates to represent their party in the Nov. 8 general election, and some voters – including those in Republic, Ash Grove and Clever – will also be asked to decide local issues.

[Editor’s note: Read our round up of local races and issues.]

Following the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, some voters – particularly supporters of former President Donald Trump – raised concerns about election security. However, a joint statement from the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees called the Nov. 3, 2020, election the most secure in American history.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, the county’s top election official, said before every election, a bipartisan team tests machines at each polling location.

“What we do before every election is we pretest every single piece of election equipment, and we verify that it’s tabulating correctly,” he said.

The machines also are tested after elections. During polling, bipartisan poll workers also help ensure the election goes smoothly.

In addition to pretesting and post-testing, Schoeller said randomized tests were conducted at five polling locations and for five federal or statewide races, as well as a county candidate race and local issue. He said those locations and contests are randomly chosen, and a bipartisan team compared each count to the tape count recorded by the machine.

“The process of pretesting and post-testing is open to the public, and we encourage them to get involved as an election judge, challenger or watcher,” he said. “That’s how we have accountability in our election system.”

Schoeller said state statute requires that challengers or watchers are appointed by the chair of each party, but his office did not receive any assignments for the August election. That’s typical, he said, as challengers and watchers are more common in general elections. A person can’t merely show up to be a poll watcher, Schoeller said.

Schoeller said many steps go into making sure the election process is secure, and that is the goal of every election official in the state.

He noted this is the first election with new legislative districts determined by the 2020 U.S. Census. Census results were released later than usual, and the redistricting commission started its work later as a result. Maps with new district lines were released earlier this year, he said.

During the narrow window of time between the April 5 municipal election and today, election workers manually checked each street in any precinct that contains more than one legislative district, Schoeller said.

“Normally, we start that process the year before,” he said. “We did not get the normal time period we would want to go through and verify every address for accuracy.”

That is where voters can help, he said. Maps are set up at every polling location with multiple legislative districts, and voters can check the map to be sure they are being issued the correct ballot.

“We feel good about the work we did, but we’d feel a lot better if we’d had more time,” Schoeller said.

He added the Missouri legislature recently passed new voter ID requirements, but those will not go into effect until the November general election. Voters in today’s election can still check in with the ID they used in April, including a driver’s license or non-driver’s license, a federal passport, a voter ID card, a state college- or university-issued ID, or a current utility or bank statement showing the name of the voter.

In addition to each voter’s assigned voting locations, there are four central voting locations open to any Greene County voter. Those are at Mercy Hospital, 1235 E. Cherokee St.; Cox South Hospital, 3801 S. National Ave.; the City Utilities Transit Center, 211 N. Main Ave.; and the Missouri State University Davis-Harrington Welcome Center, 705 S. National Ave.


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