Chatham County Board of Elections explains early absentee ballot scanning process, security

Chatham County Board of Election explains early absentee ballot scanning process, security

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Thousands of absentee ballots have already been processed in Chatham County ahead of the November 3rd General Election.

Thanks to a new state rule, the board of elections offices across Georgia are allowed to start processing absentee ballots, scanning them into a computer to make tabulating on Election Day run smoother.

Since Monday, which was the first day board of elections workers could start the early processing of absentee ballots, around 14,000 have been scanned into their computer system in Chatham County.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 52,000 or so requested by Chatham County residents so far.

The County turned a warehouse into a processing hub in a matter of weeks, not only a place for workers, but also for public observers to watch the scanning process.

They aren’t being tabulated though, and can’t be until Election Day.

The whole goal of the early processing is to lighten the counting load on Election Day itself.

The message from Board of Elections leaders today is, the sooner you can get your absentee ballot in for this early processing, the better.

Tom Mahoney, Chairman of Chatham County Board of Elections, said “If everybody is still thinking about it, and has it on their kitchen table, and gets it to us on Election Day...then it’s going to be two or three weeks after Election Day before we know who won.”

As for security, Mahoney couldn’t go into every detail, but he did pull back the curtain on a few of the measures they’re taking to ensure the integrity of the election process.

To make sure ballot information stays secure, Mahoney said there’s a mix of security measures they’ve implemented.

“There is old fashioned tech, there is new fashioned tech. We have security in place over the facility. The equipment also has its own security," said Mahoney.

That includes safe guards that alert if someone accesses the scanned-in ballot information improperly.

“Nobody has any count, and nobody’s allowed to have any count until after everybody has had an opportunity to go to the polls," the Chairman explained.

Some of the old fashioned tech includes putting equipment under lock and key, and 24-hour surveillance of the processing site by Chatham County Sheriffs deputies.

“We feel very confident, and the public should be confident, that there is security.”

As for the workers, there are about 40 altogether participating in the early absentee ballot processing, and all are sworn elections officials, allowed to handle and process the ballots.

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