ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. —
The 2020 Presidential Primary is still months away, yet local election commissions are already working at a fever pitch to get ready.
St. Louis County gave 5 On Your Side a rare glimpse behind the scenes to show how they are making sure our elections are safe.
When it comes to election security, there are protections you can see like the ballot room, that requires election workers from both parties to scan their ID at the same time, just to get the door open.
"There’s never anybody alone in one of these rooms. There’s always a bipartisan team together," says Eric Fey, the Democratic Director of Elections for St. Louis County.
Fey said most of the safeguards for fair and safe elections happen deep within computer hard drives.
"We have worked with the Missouri Secretary of State and the Department of Homeland Security to make sure we’re doing everything we can here, to make that system as secure as possible," he said.
Back in 2016, the Russia misinformation campaign got all the headlines, but many forget they also targeted election systems in all 50 states.
"So since then, every state including Missouri and most counties have taken additional steps to secure their voter database," said Fey.
Those upgrades includes brand new voting machines. In many ways, it'll feel like back to the future.
The new machines print paper ballots. They made the move because it's more secure and the machines allow you to print your specific ballot, so there's no mix-up.
Fey said the most detrimental threat to the safety of our elections is also something you can't see, uncertainty.
"[Bad] actors in 2016 just wanted to sow doubt in people’s minds that the election wasn’t secure, and that’s really what this meeting about is tonight, to reassure that sense of confidence," Fey said.
Fey says, in addition to enhanced security, the new voting machines will save taxpayers about $3-4 million by converting all of the machines back over to paper ballots.