By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Photo by Tom Hintgen
County Auditor Wayne Stein addressed county residents and fielded questions from them Jan. 22 via a Zoom Meeting sponsored by the Otter Tail County Historical Society.

Well trained voting judges, use of updated voting equipment and secure vote tabulations from 92 precincts made for fair and safe elections in Otter Tail County in 2020.

That was the analysis provided by County Auditor Wayne Stein who spoke during a county museum “Coffee Klatch” zoom presentation at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

In 2018 Otter Tail County obtained a Voting Equipment Grant from the state of Minnesota to update existing precinct-based equipment. Matching dollars were required in order to complete the project, paid for by county taxpayers through the annual levy.

Three years ago the county obtained a precinct-based ballot scanner (vote tabulator) that combines the flexibility and efficiency of digital-imaging technology.

“This DS200 system is extremely reliable,” Stein said, “and there are built-in securities with this new vote tabulator system.”

Stein emphasized that Otter Tail County’s voting software system at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls is not connected to the internet, so no wrongdoing can take place. Tabulated votes are then forwarded to the secretary of state office in St. Paul.

“The tabulators will point out voter marking errors,” Stein said. “Equipment is tested prior to each election and a post-election review is completed after the general election to verify that the tabulators have counted accurately.”

Stein said he has worked with the Secretary of State Office for many years and says they have always been focused on fairness of elections.

“People are well trained at the state level just like at the local level here in Otter Tail County, prior to primary and general elections,” he said.

Approximately 9,100 absentee ballots were requested through the mail by county residents in 2020.