Left of Banner: Walton County Seal. Center of Banner: Walton County Florida, Supervisor of Elections. Right of Banner: Headshot of Ryan Messer. His name appears to the left of the headshot above his title - Supervisor of Elections

Election Integrity

Reasons Your Vote is Secure in Walton County, Florida

We are committed to helping you exercise your right to vote and have your voice heard while ensuring our elections remain secure, accurate, honest, and timely. Below are some safeguards we have in place to ensure only eligible voters can vote and ensure our vote counts are accurate and timely. 

- Sincerely,
  Ryan Messer 

See also the Florida Department of State Election Integrity page at: dos.myflorida.com/elections/integrity.

Paper Ballots 

All voting in Florida is done on paper ballots that can be independently audited and recounted. All ballots and election records are retained for 22 months following an election.

Voter ID

Florida law requires that you bring a photo and signature ID when you vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day. When you go to vote, we check your identification, confirm you are registered to vote, verify your information, and make sure you have not already voted in the election. ID numbers must be provided and verified at the time a request is made for a mail (absentee) ballot. Upon return of the ballot, signatures are verified against the signature in the voter’s record.

Chain of Custody

Extensive physical security and chain-of-custody procedures are utilized throughout the entire election process, including 24-hour camera surveillance, restricted access controls, locks, seals, passwords, and 2+ person confirmations.

Pre-Election Testing

Before each election, we re-test every voting machine in-house by staff and again by the canvassing board, if randomly selected, in a public meeting with observers. We run thousands of ballots through the machines to make sure that they are working correctly and counting each vote accurately. Testing is open to the public so you can be sure that the voting system will count your vote correctly. Machines are locked and sealed after a successful test until used in the election.

Certified Voting System

The Florida Department of State tests and certifies all voting systems used in Florida. Our vendor, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), is an American-owned company based in Omaha, Nebraska. The systems currently used in Florida have gone through rigorous auditing and recounts over many election cycles.

Independent Oversight

Outside observers are critical to maintain trust and transparency in the process. Political organizations and candidates can appoint “poll watchers” to monitor voting at Early Voting sites and Election Day polling places. When we open and count Vote-by-Mail ballots, anyone can view the process.

Independent Election Officials

The most important functions of the election, such as reviewing ballots, certifying results, and overseeing recounts are overseen by and are the responsibility of an independent 3-member canvassing board. Members of this board represent the three branches of government. This ensures that critical decisions about the election are made by a group rather than a single person. Members cannot serve if they have a conflict of interest.

Each polling place is overseen by an independent Election Board, consisting of a Clerk and Inspectors. These individuals swear to an oath that they will endeavor to prevent all fraud, deceit, or abuse in conducting the election.

Voter Tracking

Our system tracks voters in real-time, meaning a voter can only cast one ballot, whether they vote by mail, vote early, or on Election Day. Voters can track and verify the status of their own voter record and voting activity at VoteWalton.gov/Status, including if a mail ballot has been requested, mailed, and counted. For redundancy and transparency, voter turnout statistics are reported online in real-time and daily voter reports are sent to the Department of State, from the first voter in an election to the last.

Voter Registration Verification and Accuracy

Before you can vote, you must first register to vote. As part of registering, you must give us identifying information, such as your Florida driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number. This information is verified to make sure that you are a real, living person, who meets the requirements to register. Once registered, we use official information from various sources, including the voter, to maintain the voter rolls. If we receive information that a voter lost their right to vote, died, or registered to vote in another state, we conduct the process to remove them from the voter rolls in Florida. Ongoing list maintenance is performed in accordance with state law to ensure our voter rolls are as accurate as possible.

Vote-by-Mail (Absentee) Safeguards

In Florida, voting not done in-person at a polling place (i.e. absentee) is called "Vote-by-Mail". Mail ballots must be requested and are only mailed to the specific voters who requested them. ID numbers must be provided and verified at the time a request is made for a mail (absentee) ballot. Voters must sign the certificate on the envelope. Upon return of the ballot, signatures are verified to match the signature in the voter’s record.  


Timely and efficient election results are paramount to election integrity and voter confidence. Preliminary detailed election results are available online within minutes after the polls close and are updated to include Election Day votes as they arrive from the Election Day polling places.


Florida law requires automatic machine recounts whenever the election results are ½% or less. If the results are ¼% or less after a machine recount, then a manual hand recount is conducted. However, in Walton County, as part of our auditing procedures, we count every race, on every ballot, in every election a second time to always verify the accuracy of the first machine count. The recount process ensures that during a close election everyone can be confident that their vote was counted properly, and the results are accurate. Recounts are open to the public. Recounts in Walton County have always shown that the original tabulations were accurate.

Post-Election Audit

After every election, we audit the election results. In Walton County, we double check every vote, on every ballot, from every voter to make sure that the results are 100% accurate. Essentially, we perform a 100% recount of every election using a separate system to make certain that every paper ballot has been counted accurately. The post-election audit of the ballots is certified by the canvassing board in a public meeting.


We confirm that the number of voted ballots matches the number of voters who voted. We take similar steps when counting Vote-by-Mail ballots to make sure that each ballot received balances back to a voter.  (1 voter = 1 ballot cast)

Every ballot in a polling place is accounted for, even spoiled ballots. For reconciliation and redundancy, voters must print and sign their name to receive their ballot. Names can be verified against the list of voters checked in. 

Encrypted electronic results, backed up by an independent printed paper results report printed immediately after the polls close, are collected from each individual tabulator and are reconciled against the accumulated results in the Elections Office.

Digital ballot images, created as ballots are tabulated, and detailed audit logs are collected, reviewed for inconsistencies, and retained as additional backups to paper ballots and as auditing tools.

A post-election Reconciliation Report of voters compared to ballots cast for every voting location and/or voting method is completed and submitted to the Department of State.

A Conduct of Election Report (“After Action Report”) detailing how the election was administered and any issues is compiled and submitted to the Department of State after the election.

Tabulators use dual election-specific and lifetime machine ballot counters to prevent tampering. Lifetime counters should only increase by the same amount as the election counter during voting.


Many layers of physical and digital security are utilized, including locks, seals, passwords, multi-factor authentication, encryption, audit logs, 24-hour camera surveillance, access controls, employee background checks, fire-proof safes, and more.

Elections are designated as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security, providing local election officials access to valuable resources and intelligence needed to keep elections secure.

Our office partners with several other agencies to ensure our network and cybersecurity posture follows the latest best practices, including risk assessments, cybersecurity training, and network monitoring.

We have transitioned our website to (.gov), a domain reserved for verified government agencies, providing extra security and a verified online source for accurate election information for our voters.

Our voter registration system is not connected to our tabulation system. We use a highly encrypted stand-alone tabulation system, with no outside connections or remote access, to tabulate and report election results. Programming and reporting are done in-house by staff.

In recent years, the Florida Legislature has passed bills to bolster election integrity and security in the state. These bills have helped to improve list maintenance processes, created the Office of Election Crimes and Security, added additional security to mail ballot voting, and more. 


All funding for our office only comes from taxpayer-funded sources. No outside interests. 

See also the Election Integrity page at the Florida Department of State.