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.