Hennepin County tests ballot counters ahead of presidential primary

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We’re less than a month away from the first presidential primary in nearly 30 years in Minnesota.

Thursday, Hennepin County tested equipment to make sure everything is running smoothly before people head to the polls.

"We know what the test results should be, we run those through the ballot counter to make sure they’re counting correctly and make sure they’re working mechanically," said Jim Howitt, Hennepin County election administrator.

"We have a sophisticated election night recording system. It’s encrypted, it’s secure and it’s one that’s served us well for many years," Secretary of State Steve Simon said.

The security checks come on the heels of what turned out to be a mess in Iowa, with the caucuses marred by technical problems and delays.

"In many, many ways we are not Iowa," Simon said.

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Simon said it’s good news that Minnesota is having a primary this year and not a caucus.

"Meaning we are doing a real election in real, regular polling places with real elections equipment, not a caucus that’s run by volunteers in the political party," he said.

The ballot counters do the heavy lifting on Election Day.

"They are high-tech — being able to count 300 ballots per minute means it’s able to see the marks on the ballot that quickly and record them correctly," Howitt said.

The State of Minnesota says its tests are thorough, and not only are they tested but random precincts are chosen to double-check results by hand to ensure things work correctly.

Minnesota’s presidential primary is on Super Tuesday this year, which is March 3.