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A ‘Perfect Recount’ in Mason County, West Virginia

March 30, 2021

Having been part of a district-wide election recount before, Mason County, West Virginia, Clerk Diana Cromley said it’s not unusual that hand-counted totals may differ slightly from machine-tabulated results.

After the 2020 General Election, Cromley was tasked with leading her first election recount for one local race with a close margin of victory. “I was nervous with that responsibility on my shoulders,” she said. “I had to have complete trust in my team, our processes and our new voting equipment from Election Systems & Software.”

Her nerves turned to delight when not one vote changed during the recount. “My staff did a double-check and triple-check,” she said. “Not one vote changed. Not up, down or sideways. In a world of unrest and election fraud accusations, I’m totally confident in our new machines.”

“Not one vote changed. Not up, down or sideways. In a world of unrest and election fraud accusations, I’m totally confident in our new machines.”

In the General Election, 11,369 ballots were cast in Mason County. A 58-vote margin of victory in the county commissioner race led to a recount request by one of the candidates.

An election recount consists of re-tabulating votes cast in an election to verify the accuracy of the original results. Much prep work had to be done before the actual recount in Mason County could occur. By law in West Virginia, the recount had to be completed by hand and conducted by the county commission. The ballot commissioners started by counting absentee and early voting ballots. Then, they moved on to the ballots cast on Election Day.

After hand-counting nearly 5,000 ballots, with no change in vote counts, the recount was called by the petitioning candidate. Cromley was thrilled with the outcome.

“I can’t say enough good things about the equipment and the level of expertise that my staff and the ES&S team showed during the recount,” she added.

Mason County voters and poll workers were already familiar with voting technology on previous machines, so using the new ExpressVote (left) and DS200 (right) was a breeze.

An ES&S customer since 2004, Mason County replaced its aging voting systems with new equipment that includes the latest in security technology and a verifiable paper trail just in time to carry out successful 2020 Primary and General Elections. Mason County is one of 43 West Virginia counties that has upgraded its aging voting technology to ES&S’ ExpressVote® Universal Voting System and DS200® precinct scanner and tabulator.

The ExpressVote is an auditable paper-based system that uses secure touch-screen technology, eliminating unclear hand-marks and the need for interpretation of marks. The DS200 is a precinct-based ballot scanner and vote tabulator that combines the flexibility and efficiency of digital-imaging technology to support paper-based voting. Patented Intelligent Mark Recognition (IMR®) and Positive Target Recognition & Alignment Compensation (PTRAC®) technology in the DS200 eliminates the margin of error by more accurately reading ballots and ensuring voter intent.

Mason County voters and poll workers were already familiar with voting technology on previous machines, so using the new equipment was a breeze, she said. “After voters make their selections and cast their ballot, they get to touch and review the paper ballot that comes out of the ExpressVote before putting it into the DS200 for tabulation.”

Kathy Yates, member services coordinator for the West Virginia Association of Counties, attributed the recount process’s success to Cromley’s leadership and West Virginia’s partnership with ES&S. “This was a perfect recount,” she said. “In most cases, you lose or gain a few due to human or equipment error, but the hand count came out exactly the same as the machine count. This is a testament to our teams, processes and new voting equipment.”

“In most cases, you lose or gain a few due to human or equipment error, but the hand count came out exactly the same as the machine count. This is a testament to our teams, processes and new voting equipment.”

Yates also credited ES&S for support leading up to, on and beyond Election Day. “ES&S has been a faithful partner,” she continued. “We appreciate everything they do for our county clerks.”