With voters who cast their ballots and made their voices heard last week, the Montana state canvass is scheduled to meet on November 29 from 9 am to 5 pm to ensure validity for every vote cast. All results are unofficial until reviewed by the state canvass.

Some people speculate that technology can interfere with a fair election and that hand counting is the more reliable way to tabulate votes. But some research has found that hand counts are less effective than using the equipment. Some reasons can simply be from human error. Certain states and counties only have hand counts or a combination of both. 

While technology can help tabulate votes, that does not mean errors will never occur. To ensure each vote is tallied correctly, several things are done. A post-election Audit is conducted for each county that uses tabulators after federal elections. Hand counts are also randomly selected at certain precincts or contests.

Ten out of 56 counties use hand counts for paper ballots. Counties that use hand counts are listed below:

  • Daniels
  • Fallon
  • Meagher
  • Prairie
  • Garfield
  • McCone
  • Power River 
  • Treasure
  • Wheatland
  • Golden Valley

The Post-Election Audit Act requires random sample audiences for public post-elections of vote counting machines after unofficial results are made available to the public and before they are canvassed. The purpose of a post-election audit is quality assurance and to verify that tabulators worked properly after the election. The ten counties in Montana that use hand counts are exempted from the audit. 

The tabulation method Yellowstone County is a digital scan using the Ds85, a precinct-level tabulator and is not connected to the internet. All counties that use tabulators must test them before every general and primary election. A random test must also be conducted on election day to ensure it is working properly.