Orange County publicly tests election equipment before processing ballots

State requires all vote-by-mail tabulating equipment be tested ahead of Election Day

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said public testing of the equipment has to happen before they can start processing vote-by-mail ballots.

On Friday, a handful of members of the public, as well as the canvassing board, watched as the equipment was tested.

Florida statutes state that supervisor of elections must publicly test 5% of precinct tabulating equipment. In Orange County, that means 19 machines that will be used at early voting sites and precincts must be publicly tested.

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It also states that all vote-by-mail tabulating equipment be tested, which is seven machines in Orange County.

The equipment is tested using a test deck and the ballots are marked in a specific way, according to Cowles.

He said the ballots are pre-marked with a pattern.

Cowles said after testing is completed, machines are deemed ready for use.

[READ MORE: Central Florida counties reporting record number of mail-in ballots this election]

The polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day then the supervisor of elections office releases results, according to Cowles.

At that time, he said, they will have 100% of the early voting results and about 95-97% of the vote-by-mail results.

Cowles said that means that shortly after 7 p.m. on Election Day, usually about 60% or more of the votes that are going to be cast in the election are known.

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