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Voting Systems Used in Minnesota

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Voting Systems Used in Minnesota



(1) How are ballots counted in Minnesota?


Ballots in Minnesota are counted in one of two ways:


Traditional paper ballots are counted by hand.


The newer “optical scan” paper ballots are counted by a voting system that reads (or “scans”) the marks that voters have made on the ballot. These marks can be shaded ovals next to a candidate’s name, or shadings to connect a broken arrow next to a candidate’s name, depending on the model of optical scan voting system that a precinct is using.


(2) What are the different types of optical scan voting system models?


There are two basic types of optical scan voting systems. The difference between the types is where the votes are counted.


(A)   Precinct Count Unit – A precinct count unit is used to count all of the votes at the polling place for that precinct. After the precinct count unit has counted all the votes, the results are sent to the county election office, either by hand delivery of precinct summary statements, or in some precincts, the results are sent electronically by modem. Precinct counters can automatically alert voters to problems with their ballots before the voter leaves the polling place. For example, if a voter has accidentally voted for too many candidates at the general election, the precinct count unit rejects the ballot. The voter then has the chance to ask for a replacement ballot that will be counted.

(B)   Central Count Unit – A central count unit is generally located in a central location at the county government facility. Some counties may have more than one central count unit, depending upon the number of ballots cast in the county. After the polls close, the ballots are not counted at the precinct polling place. Instead, the ballots are transported by election judges to the central count facility. There, county election officials run all the optical scan ballots from each precinct through the central count unit and come up with vote totals for each precinct.


(3) Who provides the optical scan voting systems to election officials?


There are two vendors of optical scan voting systems in Minnesota: Election Systems & Software and Global Election Systems. These vendors offer different models of voting systems to counties and municipalities, who may purchase the systems off of a state contract that includes both vendors.


(4) How do the election results get from cities or towns to the county election officials?


Although the Secretary of State receives election results from each of the 87 Minnesota county auditors on election night, each county first receives the election results from the cities or towns located in that county.