Polk County Elections Director John Chiodo examines test ballots. (RI photo)

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Polk County Elections Director John Chiodo are allowing the public to view the testing that’s done on voting machines. Pate says they want to be sure everyone knows how the process works.

“Because there’s a lot of people who don’t know what happens — I mean literally — they’ll fill out paper ballot and then they stick it into the machine and they’re going, where did it go, what did they do?,” Pate says. “And with some of the misinformation and disinformation has been going out, we thought it’d be very well thought through at least to give you the facts.”

Chiodo says it is a long process to get ready. “This goes on for many weeks and months preparing for this, it’s just not like I was telling the gentleman earlier, it’s not like we wake up on Election Day and throw everything against a wall and hope it sticks. I mean, we test and test and test and test,” Chiodo says. “So you have that comfort, waking up on election day that things are gonna go right. If you get the doors open, you’re in good shape.”

Pate says they’re testing different kinds of ballots, because each precinct might have a different ballot for the different offices that are up for election. “This machine is also designed to assist the voter because let’s say for example, they caught a double vote, they actually voted for two people for the same office, the machine will catch that, and we’ll push it back out and alert you there’s a problem. Well, this can be resolved, right while the voters there, we don’t want to spoil their ballot, we don’t want to, we want to make sure your vote gets counted,” Pate says.

Chiodo ran a number of different ballots through a machine as reporters watched. He says the machine accepted all the ballots he put in except for one that was over voted. Pate says the machines are all clean when voting begins on election day.

“Meaning there’s no information in here, they have a designated stick that we put in those. They’re sealed so that again, they’re only used this time. And that’s how it works,” Pate says. “That is really a big part of this — because at the end of the night they’ll take the stick out and the ballots and they’re all sealed. And now we have two ways to audit you have stick and you have the physical ballots to go off of.”

Pate says his office will identify a precinct in all the 99 counties that has to be manually audited with a hand count of the ballots for the top office against what the machine’s tabulator says. He says they’ve been doing that for three election cycles and it’s checked out 100 percent in all 99 counties.

Chiodo says the machines are not connected to the internet during voting. “The only time that it has any connection whatsoever is at the end of the night when we enable a modem to transfer the results from the point place to here (county election office). And it’s outgoing only. And that’s only live for when they close the machine out — and there safeguards on both ends as far as who can get in who can get out. And it’s only outgoing data,” Chiodo says.

Pate says those numbers are only unofficial results and the numbers reported by the machines are checked against the paper ballots.

Radio Iowa