Elections officials starting to review Portland mayoral ballots

Nick Koumoutseas, a programmer with elections consultant TrueBallot, just announced that officials are now moving into the ballot review process. Under that process, elections officials will see on computer screens the images of ballots scanned in earlier in the day, with the vote counting software overlaying a grid indicating what it registered as votes.

So, simply put, elections officials will see the original marks made by voters. The computer will lay a green mark over the spots on the grid where the software recognizes that a vote choice has been made. If that matches the human reviewer’s impression of what the voter intended in filling out the ballot, everything’s hunky dorey.

The computer will also lay down red marks over places where the software perceives double votes or other disqualifying marks. In those cases, the human reviewers will attempt to determine the voter’s intention and move along.

Koumoutseas backed away from City Clerk Kathy Jones’ assertion earlier that ballot checkers would eyeball each and every one of the nearly 20,000 mayoral ballots cast, a process that would take several hours.

“We don’t have to [check all of them individually,” he said. “We have to get a good confidence level that the form reader picked up all the vote marks. We’re going to be matching the computer interpretation with our interpretation.”

Even to the degree that they’ll be doing it, we’re probably looking at two or three hours. They’ve got four computer stations going, with teams of three or four reviewers looking at each screen.

Once they’re confident everything’s being counted accurately by the software, they’ll start the instant runoff process to retabulate the votes and definitively determine who will be Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in 88 years. Stay tuned.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.