Santa Clara County

Decision 2020: How Results From Early Ballots Are Kept Safe and a Secret

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With so many people voting early, some Bay Area counties are already starting to count ballots, and they're also making sure to keep the results from those early ballots secure and a secret.

Counties are not allowed to publish results until after the polls close Tuesday night.

At the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Office in San Jose, only specially trained staff are allowed in the vote counting room, which is under video surveillance. The results from the ballots are stored on a secure computer system, known as an air-gapped system.

"Our voting tabulation system, our computer system, is not connected to the internet," Shannon Bushey with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters said. "There is no threat of anybody hacking into our results for an election."

Bushey said the information gathered from ballots is safe and no one — not even election staff — will have access to the results until after 8 p.m. Tuesday. She also said ballots that have been processed but not yet counted remain in a secure caged area.

"Every night, they are locked down in a secured area," she said.

After 8 p.m. Tuesday, a brand new thumb drive is used to transfer the results onto a different computer where they will be uploaded to the public.

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