How Nassau County Makes Elections Secure

By April L. Bogle

Janet Adkins

Janet Adkins, Supervisor of Elections (SOE) for Nassau County, addressed eight points of election security with her advisory council on Friday, April 21, at SOE offices.

“I look at my job as protecting the integrity of elections. We are more focused on the process than the outcome,” she told the group of more than 20 members representing both political parties. “We make sure the process is pristine.”

Adkins’ presentation was designed to counter election fraud claims made by two nationally known election deniers April 15 at the First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach. Two local conservative political organizations, We the People and Citizens Defending Freedom-Nassau, promoted the election denier event. See related story.

Adkins addressed the following eight processes, which the election deniers implied were fraudulent or enabled fraud to occur: 

1-Pauses on election day ballot counting. Although many precincts throughout the nation had to stop counting ballots on election day in 2020 and complete the process in subsequent days, this does not happen in Nassau County. The state of Florida allows mail-in ballots to be counted in advance of election day, which gives Adkins’ team a head start and the ability to complete the ballot counting process in one day. In other states, mail-in ballots must be counted on election day and workers are unable to process them all in a single day.

2-Voter identity systems (EViD) at precincts are connected to the internet. Yes, they are because election workers need to be able to determine, immediately at voter check-in, if that voter has voted elsewhere or already submitted a mail-in ballot. Having the EViD system connected to the voter registration system allows for verification and prevents fraud. 

3-EViD data is being accessed/received throughout [election] day. Yes, it is because Florida state law gives political parties, political committees with an issue on the ballot and candidates on the ballot the right to access data to see where constituents are voting, which lets them know where they need to go “get out the vote.”

4-External control of EViD during voting. In Nassau County, if an EViD machine malfunctions, a member of Adkins’ team is dispatched to replace it with a new one. No vendors, repair people or other “external” people are given access to the machines. 

5-20% of votes are showing up in 12 minutes. This happens because mail-in ballot results are required by Florida law to be released in batches starting 30 minutes after polls close on election day. 

6-Hackers can remotely access voting equipment. This is next to impossible in Nassau County. First, the county audits 100% of ballots received, even though Florida requires only a 20% audit. This means every ballot is run through a separate set of scanners (made by different a manufacturer than the tabulation machines). Those scanners are not online, and the scanning is done in a separate audit room that is accessible only by SOE audit staff. Second, SOE staff do not have keys to both the audit room and the tabulation room, and staff is not cross-trained on how to use both systems. Third, the SOE office has seven levels of physical security:

– Self-contained IT infrastructure — not part of other constitutional office IT infrastructures.

– Controlled personnel access.

– Physical keys required.

– Badges required.

– PIN access required.

– Security alarms.

– 24-hour video surveillance. 

7-SQL server database on tabulation equipment. Nassau County does not have a SQL database or SQL software on any of its tabulation equipment, so SQL cannot be used to manipulate election data.

8-Generic system login that anyone can figure out. Example: Username: Admin, Password: 123456. In Nassau County, system logins require a 14-digit password that is frequently changed, as well as multi-factor authentication. This means that in addition to entering the correct password, people must also input an access code that has been sent to another of their devices.

Adkins also showed the advisory council where all the action takes place on election day to raise awareness of how ballot counting and election certification are accomplished. In the canvassing room, the Nassau County Canvassing Board reviews vote totals, examines ballots where markings are not typical and applies Florida’s criteria for determining if such votes should get counted, and certifies elections as official. As required by Florida statute, the board is composed of one county judge, one county commissioner not on the ballot and the county’s supervisor of elections. Representatives from both political parties are permitted in the room to observe but do not serve on the board.

In the tabulation room, votes are counted. In the adjacent audit room, 100% of ballots are recounted (on different equipment as noted). There’s also an observation room where members of the public can watch the vote counting process and hear what is being said in the canvassing room.

Advisory council members seemed satisfied with Adkins’ explanations, including We the People founder Deb Boelkes, who invited the election deniers to Fernandina Beach. “People don’t know the extent you go to. This was an awesome meeting,” she said.

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Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
10 months ago

I have worked the past two elections as a poll worker and can attest to the security of ballots and the integrity of our elections. Those supporting election fraud claims are believing unsupported accusations and illogical conclusions because those claims fit their worldview narrative, not because of any facts.

Tim McLaughlin
Tim McLaughlin (@guest_68750)
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Totally agree with Mike Tomes

10 months ago

The burden to prove fraud is high. The danger is not in proving fraud. The danger is in creating doubt in the process. That is a much easier task.

Those that perpetuate these conspiracies are a threat to democracy.

Wes White
Wes White(@wes-white)
10 months ago

Thank you Madam Supervisor.

Noble Member
10 months ago

Since Deb Boelkes is ON the Advisory Council for Ms. Atkins’ office, one would think she would have been more informed about the work that goes on to secure our votes AND that she would have done her homework before inviting such outright election deniers to our community to further spread lies and fears. I am very grateful for the work being done to secure our votes!

Jean DesBarres
Jean DesBarres (@guest_68757)
10 months ago
Reply to  lehartgreen

I was stunned by Deb Boelkes ignorance about the SOE security systems. What purpose does she serve on the advisory council?

Jason Collins
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
10 months ago

Great job making our elections secure Ms. Adkins! Now if we could only get the rest of the States to handle their elections as The State of Florida and Ms. Adkins does in Nassau County!

Robert Sherretta
Robert Sherretta (@guest_68762)
10 months ago

Excellent. As a former Election Officer, I am glad to see all of these procedures being applied to Nassau County Elections, particularly the verification of voter ID to prevent duplication of voting…

Alan Hopkins
Alan Hopkins (@guest_68771)
10 months ago

I’ve had the pleasure of touring the facility and I can attest to Ms Adkins and her staffs professionalism and care. It is almost impossible for fraud to occur once the ballots have been obtained back to our election facility. The fraud occurs with the ballots that are mailed out. Anyone who wants to deny it for whatever reason are ignorant of how a majority of the fraud is being committed in our elections. Having said that I believe there is very little of it in Nassau county and in Florida in general.

a registered voter
a registered voter (@guest_68783)
10 months ago

in nassau county the vote was fairly clear. do the deniers feel the vote in nassau was rigged and the opposition really won?

Kent Piatt
Kent Piatt (@guest_68818)
10 months ago

I didn’t vote for you but you’re doing a fine job. Thanks and keep up the good work.