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New, hi-tech voting system put to the test in SB, SLO and Ventura Counties

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - There has been a lot of talk and debate leading up to this election about voter fraud and foreign interference. Those concerns are putting county elections officials in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties in the spotlight right now.

One critical factor is the voting tabulation system they put in place to make sure every vote is counted securely. All three counties are using a somewhat new and complex voting system created by a company called Dominion Voting Systems headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

During the June Primary in Georgia this year, voters waited for hours, some in the rain, to cast their ballot. Many walked away and never did vote. Georgia elections officials blamed the problems on complications implementing a $100,000,000 next-generation statewide voting system by Dominion.

At older polling places, the new machines blew fuses and poll workers were not trained properly. Officials described a series of problems for the chaos.

“Equipment was delivered late, some of it’s not charged up, the check in folks aren’t really clear what to do,” described one Georgia Elections Commissioner.

Elections officials in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties know what happened in Georgia and they took note of the mistakes made in the Peach State so the same things don't happen here.

“ So, in Georgia, Georgia used to be all electronic voting with no paper trail or paper back up, which is very bad,” said Santa Barbara County Clerk, Recorder, Assessor Joe Holland.

Holland oversees Santa Barbara County’s Elections Office. He said Santa Barbara County will use that same Dominion Voting System next month during the big General Election.

“We’re not concerned at all, we understand the system, we know all the intricacies and ah, we have Dominion on speed dial if anything comes up. We’re completely confident,” said Holland.

Tommy Gong is in charge of San Luis Obispo County’s Elections Office. He knows about the problems in Georgia because SLO County will also use Dominion’s Voting System in November.

“We’ve been looking at power loads of the equipment and that the building they are in will be able to support the amount of power necessary. We also have generators on hand in case there is a power outage,” said Gong.

Gong says his office has been working on a slow roll out of the system since 2018 and they even upgraded the system this year. 

“Dominion’s System is vastly improved over what we had before. The system we had before was implemented in 2000, so we were dealing with an 18 year old system with servers that aren’t supported anymore. So, it was time to move on,” said Gong.

Both Gong and Holland said the key to avoiding problems with a complex system like Dominion’s, is not rushing it. Take the time to know and implement the system, train poll workers properly and have paper ballot backup just in case.

Both men also said their tabulation machines are not connected to the internet, so they can’t be hacked and they’re in constant contact with the FBI and Homeland Security.

Holland also said his election server which holds the voter registration database, is isolated from the rest of the county system for an added layer of security.

Ventura County will also use the Dominion System next month, and again officials told NewsChannel 3 they are confident everything will go smoothly. 

Here is the entire written statement from Dominion Voting Systems for our story:

"Going into day five of unprecedented levels of early voting across the Peach State, reports of voting machine malfunctions or failures are non-existent.  Counties across California, Colorado and other states are also using the same system without issue.
Implementing a new, statewide voting system across all of Georgia’s 159 counties in a major presidential election year would have been challenging even without the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted training efforts and left some counties with significant poll worker shortages.  In order to help with these challenges, Dominion is working to recruit and train 3,000 field service technicians for the November 3rd general election."

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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here


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