Yes, you can trust election results in Snohomish County. Our elections results have been consistently validated by audits, reviews, and recounts.
Snohomish County conducts elections by mail. Every vote is cast on a paper ballot. Paper ballots are used to audit the ballot counting system and in recounts of close races.
Our ballot counting system is tested by a federally approved lab and approved by the Washington State Secretary of State for use in Washington. The ballot counting system is not connected to the internet or any other networks and access is limited to authorized elections employees. All access is controlled by key cards and passwords and monitored through system logs and video surveillance.
Before each election, the ballot counting system is programmed by county elections staff and tested to confirm ballots will be properly counted for that specific election. This test is open to public observation and is witnessed by staff from the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office for federal and state elections.
Snohomish County also conducts two separate audits of our election results after Election Day. For first audit, a single contest is agreed upon by representatives of each major political party. Each party also selects three batches. Election employees then hand count the results of the chosen contest to confirm the software tabulations.
The second audit is called a “Risk Limiting Audit.” This audit has been designed by statisticians and involves a hand recount of ballots chosen at random to form a statistical sample. The number of ballots in the sample increases until the audit sufficiently establishes that a full hand recount would confirm the original outcome.
Finally, the work performed by Snohomish County Elections is reviewed by the county canvassing board before election results are certified as final.
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Yes, election processes are open to observation. Additional information about election observation opportunities can be found on our website.
Yes, official drop boxes are a secure, convenient way for voters to return their ballot.
Ballot drop boxes are secured with custom locks and tamper-evident seals. Ballots are collected on a regular basis.
Ballot pick-up from the drop boxes is performed by no less than two employees. Ballots are transported directly to the election processing facility in sealed containers. A chain of custody log is maintained throughout the entire process.
Snohomish County Elections uses layers of defenses to protect against cyber threats.
All Snohomish County Elections employees with computer access complete annual cybersecurity training and are frequently tested to ensure they can recognize and appropriately respond to suspicious emails and other tactics used by cyber criminals.
All ballot counting equipment is never connected to the internet or other networks. The ballot counting equipment also sits in a secured cage that requires two full-time elections employees to access. Seal logs and video surveillance perform another layer of defense. All ballot counting equipment have USB port locks to further prevent unauthorized access.
Other non-ballot counting equipment is protected by various network security tools including “Albert Sensors.” Albert sensors are passive network traffic monitoring devices that look for known cyber threats as they try to enter the county network. Staff monitor for albert sensor alerts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Snohomish County Elections is also a member of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing Analysis Center. The EI-ISAC is partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. EI-ISAC provides cybersecurity briefings, training, assessments, and resources to member counties.