SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Election day can be a hectic time for those manning the polls, but there were no signs of tension or anxiety at the Greene County vote center Monday. As a line of people waited to go through in-person absentee voting on one side of the building, on the other side, Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller and his staff were busy preparing for Tuesday’s big push, handing out voting equipment to volunteers who headed to the other polling stations throughout the county.
And things went smoothly.
“We’re pre-testing all our election equipment before the election and we’re ready,” Schoeller said. “We have bipartisan teams doing this.”
The only possible loophole Schoeller pointed to for Tuesday’s general election is that some voters may show up unaware of Missouri’s new law requiring them to show photo ID before they can vote. People who don’t have photo ID will have to vote with a provisional ballot, which takes several extra steps before it can be counted.
“In the past, you could use your voter ID card to register,” Schoeller explained. “But now you have to use either your official Missouri driver’s license or non-driver’s license, or your federal passport or military ID.”
Anyone keeping up with election coverage across the country surely knows that there are many concerns about the security of the election process and the safety of voters and candidates. The Department of Homeland Security said it is actively looking into threats against election officials and vandalism of ballot boxes, while the Justice Department announced Monday it will monitor polling places in 24 different states across the country to ensure compliance with voting rights laws.
The department will monitor polling places in 64 jurisdictions in 24 states, which include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
With all that going on, Schoeller admits he’s getting more questions from the public these days.
“Yes, in terms of voter integrity,” he said. “If people choose to only listen to what they read on social media, that’s often why we see challenges. People are sharing stories that aren’t accurate or even necessarily true.”
Schoeller says people are welcome to come see the process in person.
“Anyone can come and observe the preliminary test of the election machinery,” he pointed out. “They can monitor the post-testing where we do the exact same test after the election. We will do a manual count after the election so they can watch us do that manual count and compare it to the results from the machine itself to make sure they match. So these are all things that are open for people to come and witness and observe. It’s all done by bipartisan teams, too. We welcome people to come and learn about the process because our state constitution really empowers people to be a part of the process of accountability and transparency in our elections. And mistakes are made. Elections are organized by people and people make mistakes. But we need to find out if it was a mistake or if it was intentional. You have to trust but verify. And even as a county clerk, I want people to hold me accountable because I might make a mistake and I have to do better. But I also ask them to be willing to listen and learn.”
While other places around the country are calling law enforcement into polling places to ensure voter safety and compliance, Schoeller says that won’t happen in Greene County.
“We haven’t seen anything in this election to make us worry,” he said. “But we’re certainly prepared for it.”
What about the security of the voting machines?
“With the tabulation equipment, there’s no modem and it’s not online,” Schoeller replied. “Everything is offline, even when we upload the results on election night, the machine we upload them to is not online. So we do everything we can to make sure we protect our equipment from being compromised.”
He also said the national turmoil hasn’t resulted in fewer volunteers wanting to work in Greene County.
“We’ve actually seen more people come in and want to be a part of the process,” he said. “We even have back-up umpires ready to work on Tuesday and that’s a good problem to have.”
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