CANTON, S.D. (KELO) – Election day will be here before we know it and county auditors across the state are gearing up for the busy night. Preparations for counties include making sure the ballot counting machines are running smoothly and properly.

In just five days machines will be counting the thousands of ballots that come into the Lincoln County Auditor’s Office. That means thorough testing has to be done beforehand.

“Two mock elections and then the public test and before any of that happens, we test the media to make sure it’s going to read the ballots the right way. There’s a lot of testing that’s done to make sure that they work,” Sheri Lund, Lincoln County Auditor, said.

Thursday isn’t the first time these machines were tested ahead of November 8th this year, but it is the only time the public has been able to watch and ask questions.

“What’s plugged into that machine right now other than electricity,” Chad Skiles, the chair of the Lincoln County Democrats, asked at the testing Thursday.

“Electricity,” Lund answered. “It’s against South Dakota Codified Law for these machines to be hooked up to the internet at all.”

Republican Senator Jim Bolin of Canton was also at Thursday’s testing.

“I just wanted to see how the tabulation system and hear from the auditor herself all the different security and safeguards and how the process works,” Bolin said.

“They go through this process three times before the actual election. I knew that there was preparation ahead of time, but I didn’t realize that it was to the extent that it is,” Skiles said.

All to be sure the election is fair and safe.

“It basically concreted in my mind what I feel Lincoln County has always done, which is provide a free and fair election with complete openness, transparency and honesty,” Skiles said.

“I’m very confident that all across South Dakota, but especially here in Lincoln County, we have very good safeguards, we have an excellent staff,” Bolin said. “They do a great job of not only facilitating the election, but making sure that everything is kept in a very secure place, everything is done fairly and that everything is done in a proper way.”

Thursday was the only chance the public could come and watch the machines get tested, but Lund says anyone with questions about the election process can call or visit the Lincoln County Auditor’s Office.