ADA COUNTY — With almost 144,000 absentee ballots already mailed, Ada County sent out their own record number of mail-in ballots for this year's November election.
Ada County purchased a machine to help with the sorting and signature verifications of absentee ballots.
The almost half a million dollar Bluecrest ballot-sorting machine, nicknamed "Bessie," allows the Ada County election's office to scan in mail-in ballots as soon as they arrive.
"It takes a picture of everyone's signature that we then cross verify with our system," Ada County elections director Saul Seyler says.
Once the signatures are verified, the ballots will get re-run, and the machine will alert to anything that wasn't adequately verified or causes of concerns.
"Then it sorts everything into the legislative district, and then we run it one more time, and that allows us to go down to precinct level," Seyler says.
"Bessie" can scan through about 20,000 ballots in one hour. The machine also allows for a lot more accuracy than hand sorting, like in year's past.
"In May, we did this all by hand, and it was very difficult. So, we chose to make this investment, and it proves to be worth its weight in gold," Seyler says.
The election's director says without "Bessie," they would typically have a 30-40-person crew helping sort ballots and that this machine has been a lifesaver.
"I'm just proud of everyone that came together to make it happen. There were a lot of people that moved quickly to do this. From the secretary's office to the county to our suppliers that made it happen, so it's been a real advantage to us," Seyler says.
If you want to request an absentee ballot, you have until October 23rd.