The Missoula County Elections Office will be holding public testing of its voting systems this week, with the public and the media invited to watch.

Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors said the testing is mandated by state and federal law.

"Public testing is something we do before every election, and is required by law," Connors said. "We do some preliminary testing the week before the election to make sure everything is working properly. We do that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning. We test all the machines and that includes the Auto Marks that assist disabled voters, that does not tabulate any votes. We also test the M-100, the precinct polling place tabulators, and we also test the tabulators that test absentee ballots, the DSE-50's. We do this before a school election, before a city election, we do this in every election cycle."

Connors said the testing is important in case the systems break down.

"Sanders County was doing some testing last week and they had issues with their tests and they had to figure out a different way to handle their ballots on this election," she said. "Here in Missoula, we always make sure we have a Plan 'B', especially in our line of work so if there's an issue we try to figure out a way to carry on so that we can have an intact election."

Connors said initially, the testing will be held away from Election Central at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

"This is at 2147 Ernest Avenue where our records center is, where the Missoula County Historical Records are kept and they have a nice room where we can do our testing, and our elections warehouse is there," she said. "That will be Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. till about 4:30 p.m. Then, on Friday morning it will be held at our Elections Center at the fairgrounds."

Connors said the testing is to ensure that all voting machines and procedures are ready to handle the rigors of election day on Tuesday,November 8.

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