For six years, I served as the Secretary of State here in Arizona, and oversaw 12 elections for federal, state and local races. I can tell you, unequivocally, without a doubt, that our electoral system is strong and that voting in Arizona remains free, fair, and secure.
That is why I am surprised to hear some imply that there is a chance the presidential election this year could be “stolen” or “rigged.” Having seen the process firsthand, I know how hard this would be, and I am confident in the many safeguards we have in place in Arizona to prevent abuse.
We have held free and fair elections in this country for over 220 years, and this year will be no different. Indeed, the way we conduct our elections has been the envy of democracies around the world. So much so, in fact, that many foreign nations regularly call on us to oversee the integrity of their electoral process and structure their system of voting around ours.
Our elections are decentralized, meaning they are run by our local neighbors and friends. With multiple layers of checks and balances and administration at the state and local level, it is virtually impossible for systematic collusion to impact our election results. That is because our elections are held in public settings – at local schools, churches, firehouses and community centers – and are overseen by trained volunteers from the community. Votes are tallied under observation from the press and representatives of both political parties, to ensure complete transparency. Furthermore, poll watchers from both parties are invited to observe processes at polling places, and can raise a question or issue if they witness impropriety. Indeed, Arizona has robust systems in place to challenge a precinct’s results and initiate an immediate review.
Additionally, the integrity of our voting machines is strong. All voting machines have been tested by the Secretary of State’s office, and in Arizona, every vote cast leaves a corresponding paper trail. Despite claims to the contrary, the chance of a machine being hacked is slim to none, since these machines are not on an online network, nor are they connected to one another. This means that the only way to affect an outcome would be to physically tamper with each and every machine, and that is simply not feasible. If you are still skeptical, see for yourself; you can watch a live web camera feed of every polling machine in Arizona from now until Election Day through the Secretary of State’s website.
During the last presidential election, over 125 million votes were cast. Inevitably, instances of errors or improper voting may occur. However, these instances are rare, and our system remains strong.
While this election has undeniably been unlike any other, we must ensure Americans maintain trust in the legitimacy of our voting systems. I join my voice with the chorus of numerous secretaries of state and elected officials in reaffirming my confidence in the strength of our system.
Betsey Bayless was Arizona’s secretary of state from 1997-2003.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.