WEST OLIVE — Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck said the week-long audit of the November 2020 election has affirmed local election results throughout the county.

election audit

A procedural audit of the November 2020 election in Ottawa County found accurate results, County Clerk Justin Roebuck said this week.

The county’s elections department published its procedural audit report, “Verifying the Vote,” on Monday. The audit, which took place in December, consisted of local elections staff selecting 19 county precincts and hand-counting ballots and votes to affirm results.

“We ran a very, very secure election process in Ottawa County and the accuracy was top notch,” Roebuck told The Sentinel. “Considering all of the challenges that our local clerks had to deal with administering elections in a pandemic last year – they just did an incredible job and I’m really proud of them.”

The audit report found that local clerks in Ottawa County’s cities and townships accurately administered the November election.

The audit measured local clerks’ performances by verifying election results, determining if local elections staff had been properly trained, whether ballot dropboxes were properly sealed and other election integrity matters.

In the 19 precincts examined, the election audit found: all had accurate results, all had election inspectors representing both major political parties, all had properly trained election inspectors, and all used machines that were properly tested ahead of the election.

In 16 of 19 precincts, the number of ballot applications received matched the number of voters. Roebuck said some voters had filled multiple applications out due to receiving them multiple times, but voters were only able to vote regardless of the number of applications.

In 17 of 19 precincts, all absentee ballot applications were filled correctly. Per the audit report, the two precincts which did not have correctly filled ballot applications were missing voters’ ballot IDs. All voter signatures were verified.

Also in 17 of 19 precincts, all ballot containers were properly sealed. The audit states that two ballot containers did not include signatures on the certificate on the ballot containers, but the seal number did match the number that was recorded on the certificate and in the poll book for each precinct.

Roebuck, a Republican, and other local and state election officials from both parties have dismissed false claims about the accuracy of the 2020 election. He hopes by publicly releasing the audit report, Ottawa County voters can gain a better understanding of the elections process.

“It was anything but normal, in terms of the scrutiny and the attention that was on the election process and the results of the election,” Roebuck said of the 2020 election. “As our team was in discussions about how we wanted to conduct the post election audit, we really felt like there was some opportunity for growth for us in terms of communicating better with our residents.”

Local and county elections officials will use the audit’s findings to adjust their practices for future elections. The report includes recommendations to address issues like extra ballot applications and unsealed ballot containers following the election.

“We do want to address these things in real time,” Roebuck said. With absentee ballots for the Tuesday, May 4, election already being mailed out, another post-election audit isn’t far away.

“The great thing about our area is the collaboration and the partnership we have with our local clerks,” Roebuck said. “What’s really cool is that during the audit, really in real time, we are having those conversations with the clerks. When they came to pick up their supplies from the audit process, we were having those conversations ... just kind of addressing and talking through issues where our office can improve in our training.”

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