Election Security and Integrity
At the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office, we take election security seriously to ensure that your vote counts and your voice is heard. The purpose of this page is to highlight some of the many steps we take to conduct secure and transparent elections.
Election infrastructure was designated as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure in January 2017. Under the designation, the Department of Homeland Security – through its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – provides an array of services that state and local election officials can utilize to reduce both cyber and physical risk to their election systems and facilities. Our office maintains a strong relationship with CISA and other federal and state partners to help protect and defend our election infrastructure.
Transparency is critical to achieving election integrity and trust. Most of our election processes are open to the public for viewing and enable voters to see our security measures. Pre-election equipment testing, post-election audits, vote-by-mail processing, and more are open for community members to view.
Maintenance of Voter Registration Database
Under Florida law, Supervisors of Elections conduct two types of voter registration list maintenance. The process of identifying duplicate voters, deceased voters, voters who have been convicted of a felony, and voters who have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated occurs year-round. In addition, at least once during every odd-numbered year Supervisors perform one or more general list maintenance programs to identify voters who have moved but not yet updated their voter registration address.
If a voter loses their right to vote, dies, or registers to vote in another state, we remove them from the voter rolls upon notification. Voters who change their address when updating their Florida driver’s license are offered the opportunity to update their voter registration at the same time. We use official information to keep our database of voters up to date.
The Florida Division of Elections checks each voter registration application to verify the applicant’s identity prior to being added to the Florida Voter Registration System, and works with other agencies to identify deceased voters, persons convicted of felonies, and voters who have been declared mentally incapacitated.
As an additional layer of protection, Florida has joined the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) program. ERIC compares data from more than 30 states to identify voters who have moved out of state, in-state movers, in-state duplicates, deceased voters, and potentially eligible but unregistered Florida residents.
Our state-certified equipment is thoroughly tested before each election. The Florida Department of State tests and certifies all voting systems for use in Florida. Additionally, prior to each election our staff tests all election machines again. We run pre-marked ballots through tabulators to make sure they are counting each vote accurately. Once testing is completed, all equipment is locked and sealed with pre-recorded seals. These tests are open to the public and advertised in advance.
Paper Ballots and Voter ID
Floridians cast their votes on paper ballots. We are required by law to keep these ballots for at least 22 months; they are used for our public audit after each election. As a result, we can use paper ballots to conduct recounts and audits to confirm results.
All voters who cast a ballot at a polling place or early voting location are required to present an approved photo and signature identification prior to voting. If a voter does not present one of the approved forms of ID, they must vote a provisional ballot. After Election Day, provisional ballots are reviewed by the canvassing board for legality before being tabulated.
Electronic Poll Books
Electronic poll books provide each polling place and early voting location with a list of registered voters who are eligible to vote in an election. Once a voter checks in, their record is immediately updated to prevent someone from voting more than once. Poll books are used in all early voting locations and Election Day polling places to consistently update voter records in real-time.
Only registered voters may request a vote-by-mail ballot, and voters must include their Florida driver’s license or ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number, in addition to their date of birth, when requesting a ballot. Once confirmed, an official vote-by-mail packet is sent by the Supervisor of Elections office. Voters must return their ballot in the special return envelope provided and must sign it.
Once we receive a completed vote-by-mail ballot, we then compare the signature on the envelope to the signature on the voter’s record to make sure they match. We also ensure the voter has not already cast a ballot. After the signature is confirmed to be a match, the voter’s record is updated to prevent them from voting again in that election.
Vote-by-mail ballots are kept secure and unopened in their envelopes until opened and tabulated at a publicly noticed canvassing board meeting. Once tabulated, the ballots are immediately sealed and placed in secure storage for a minimum of 22 months following the election.
To make the vote-by-mail process transparent, voters can track the status of their ballot throughout the entire process by visiting EscambiaVotes.gov.
Prior to polls opening on Election Day, our bipartisan teams of election workers verify that all equipment is locked, and seal numbers are intact and accurate. All sensitive election materials and equipment are kept behind layers of locks and access controls and are under 24-hour camera surveillance until they are deployed for voting. Strict chain-of-custody rules ensure that only authorized staff have access to machines, equipment, and ballots. During voting, our voting machines, ballots, transport bags, and other equipment are kept secure in plain sight, monitored by our election workers.
Cybersecurity is an important aspect of election security that we take very seriously. To prevent unauthorized access, we use state-of-the-art hardware and software to monitor and secure our networks. We provide training for our personnel, participate in tabletop exercises with state and federal agencies, employ best practices, and utilize various products and services to protect and defend our systems. Our voting system is not connected to the internet.
In addition to auditing and reconciling voter activity from early voting sites and Election Day polling places, we also conduct a myriad of other audits. These include:
- Voter History vs. Tabulation
- Number of voters to number of ballots issued
- Polling Place Unofficial Results
- Unofficial Results to Transmitted Results
- Vote-By-Mail ballots received to Vote-By-Mail ballots tabulated
- Duplicated Vote-By-Mail Ballots
- Original ballots to duplicated ballots
- Election Certificates of Canvas
- Printed certificates to tabulated results
- Results to the Department of State/Division of Elections
- Verification of Official Results: SOE to Department of State/Division of Elections
- Post Certification Voting System Audit
- Randomly selected contest
- Randomly selected precincts
- Manual tally of votes compared to tabulated results