wsls logo

Virginia election directors prepare to keep Super Tuesday voting safe, secure

ROANOKE, Va. – Super Tuesday is only a couple of days away, and election boards across Virginia are ready for the rush of voters.

“I’d like to say we have it down to a science,” said Andrew Cochran, who is the city of Roanoke’s Registrar and Director of Elections. “It’s a big responsibility. We have a lot of moving parts and pieces on Election Day.”

A major focus for Cochran and other registrars across the Commonwealth is making sure ballots are safe, secure and protected from fraud. Virginia has taken some measures to protect the ballot box, including having all Virginians vote with paper ballots.

“Paper is not hackable, so that’s a secure form,” Cochran said. “All of the networks used to report results to the state are also very secure."

Also, the voting machines are out of sight until Election Day.

“They are in mobile security cages. They are locked and not accessible to the public,” Cochran said. "All of our equipment will be delivered to polling locations on Monday, then on Tuesday, it’s showtime.”

In addition to election boards monitoring the voting systems themselves, Facebook has a security team dedicated to shutting down trolls and sites attempting to influence the election from abroad.

“We know that there are bad guys out there that are going to target our elections and try to undermine confidence in them in any way they can," said Facebook Head of Security Nathaniel Gleicher. “It’s really critical for us and our colleagues in social media to work and make sure the public debates on our platforms are authentic.”

Cochran said his office is dedicated to preserving the sanctity of elections, especially on big days such as Super Tuesday.

“Everybody has the opportunity to shape the country we live in," Cochran said. "That’s how you do it, with voting.”

The Super Tuesday polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

10 News also asked registrars and election directors across the viewing area how they are keeping votes secure. Their responses are below.

Bedford County:

For obvious reasons, we do not go into detail about the security of our systems. Measures are in place with multiple checks and cross-checks to ensure the integrity of our elections. Chain of custody forms are used for all of the official voting equipment and reporting, numbered and tamper evident seals are used, security cages and locks. There are multiple official results envelopes and boxes that are sealed and submitted to the Clerk of Court for safekeeping after the election and results are stored in multiple locations. The heavy supplies are delivered to the polling places by Monday afternoon and the Chief of each voting precinct picks up the electronic poll books, reporting forms, supplies and keys to the voting location on Monday morning. In regard to setting up the equipment. No equipment is set up until Election Day. Our dedicated Officers of Election arrive at the precincts at 5 a.m. in order to set up and open the equipment so that they are prepared to start serving voters promptly at 6 a.m. when the polls open.

Barbara Gunter, Bedford County Registrar

Botetourt County:

Election security is always in the forefront of the minds of election officials. With heightened awareness of cybersecurity issues, local election officials have been undergoing additional training, partnering with federal and state agencies to monitor systems and identify potential threats, implementing policies and procedures to address potential threats and working to educate voters on these issues to reassure them that their vote is counted correctly. Election equipment goes through logic & accuracy testing prior to every election which includes programming the equipment, running a test deck of ballots with a pre-determined outcome through the scanners to ensure each line of the ballot is read and tabulated correctly. If outcome is correct and no mechanical issues are noted with the equipment, the equipment is cleared (zero’d out), reports run to verify all offices on ballot are showing a zero count, locked, sealed and stored in a secure facility until delivered to the precincts.

Traci Clark, Botetourt County Director of Elections

Campbell County:

Our election equipment is secured in a cage with a lock and that cage is secured in a locked room. Our election officials arrive at their precinct on Tuesday at 5 a.m. and start setting up the voting equipment. All of our voting equipment stays in the view of our election officials throughout the day. Once the election is over, the voting equipment goes back in the locked cage and is secured in a locked room.

Kelly Martin, Campbell County Director of Elections

Henry County:

The Henry County machines are programmed, locked and sealed and any tampering would be evident.

Elizabeth Stone, Henry County Registrar

Montgomery County:

The only comment that we have is that we are taking every step to ensure election security.

Connie Viar, Montgomery County Director of Elections

Pulaski County:

Pulaski County is taking steps to ensure security.

Kathy Webb, Pulaski County Director of Elections

Rockbridge County:

Our voting machines are tested in front of the chairperson for each party, by the Electoral Board members and myself. After the testing is done, security seals are applied. The day before the election, the Chief Officer of each precinct comes in and takes an oath to secure equipment until the morning of the election. Additional officers then arrive at the precinct to witness that there has been no tampering with the machines. The machines are open when all of the precinct officers are present. Additionally, our election equipment is never connected directly to any internet.

Sheila Hall, Rockbridge County Director of Elections

Wythe County:

Like other localities, we follow state guidelines for proper storage of voting equipment until Election Day. Our voting machines are programmed and ready to go for the March Primary, and are stored in a secure location until Super Tuesday. All machines are locked and secured with a seal to ensure there is not any tampering. Our voting machines along with our pollbooks are not connected to any networks and, like all of Virginia, we use only paper ballots.

Lennon Counts, Wythe County Director of Elections