Election Security Measures We Need - NOW.


Hand marked paper ballots.

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, recently told the Democratic Republic of Congo not to use electronic voting:

“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system.”

[35] Americans also deserve trustworthy elections. Thus, hand marked paper ballots must be available to all voters in time for the 2018 midterm elections, with assistive devices provided for those who are unable to hand mark their ballots.

Hand counting.  

A return to paper ballots means replacing DREs with optical scanners or hand counting. Jurisdictions may claim they can’t afford new scanners to count the paper ballots. If so, point out that some counties in Virginia leased scanners to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s last election.[36] Other jurisdictions can do the same.

If states still refuse to buy or lease optical scanners, then demand that they publicly hand count the paper ballots instead. This is not asking too much. Spurred by serious concerns about transparency and security, most Western democracies — including Germany, France, Canada (for federal elections), Norway, and the Netherlands — have rejected voting machines in favor of publicly hand-counted elections.[37] Although U.S. ballots tend to be more complex than in countries that hand count, most county election boards already have emergency hand-count protocols that can be implemented. Manual counting, if completed on Election Night, would not present the chain-of-custody problems that arise when we rely on next-day, or even-longer-delayed, manual audits to ensure the integrity of computerized election systems.

Many counties in New Hampshire already conduct publicly hand-counted elections as a matter of course. According to the manual linked here,[38] the ballots include on average 15 races and yet are fully hand counted within several hours on Election Night.

Risk-limiting audits, or modified hand-count audits, for every race in 2018.

Audits spot-check check to make sure the votes have been counted accurately.  Recounts perform the same counting that happened on election night, over again.  

Risk-limiting Audits (“RLAs”) increase the number of ballots checked as the margin of victory decreases.  These are the robust audits we need, and they are endorsed by Verified Voting, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the American Statistical Association, and others.[39]  As of February 2018, only two states, Colorado and Rhode Island, have currently enacted laws mandating risk-limiting audits in all elections.

Full hand-count Audits hand-count all ballots under bi- or multi-partisan supervision after then have been run through optical scanners.[40] 

Modified full hand-count Audits, the type of audit already conducted in Columbia County, NY, are the same, but they exclude uncontested races.  

All audits must be open to the media and the public. Elections must not be certified until the auditing process is complete and the audit results have either confirmed the accuracy of the initial vote count or led to a full manual count (the results of which will be dispositive).

The chain of custody must be transparent and demonstrably secure. 

Post-election audits and recounts depend on a demonstrably secure chain of custody between Election Night and the audit (or recount), the period in which the public loses sight of the ballots.[41] The chain of custody procedures must also be transparent or public confidence in the audit result will falter. During the 2004 presidential recount, ballots were “marked or altered, apparently to ensure that the hand recount would equal the machine count.”[42] And in 2016, paper ballots were destroyed before they could be recounted in the Wasserman-Schultz/Canova U.S. House race.[43] This can’t happen ever again in any election.

Ballot images must be preserved. 

States must also follow federal law and protect election transparency by preserving ballot images as public records.[44]

Precinct results must be posted.

Where precinct counting is done, precincts must post results to the public before transmitting them to the tabulators. This transparency measure would allow citizens to detect and deter any tampering or error that might occur after the results leave the precincts.

Vendor Transparency

To provide a measure of transparency, election equipment and software vendors and contractors must publicly (a) disclose the names of each of their officers, directors, and owners; (b) disclose the names of each of their parent companies, as well as the parent companies’ respective officers, directors, and owners; and (c) warrant that no one affiliated with the company or with a parent company (as officer, director, owner, employee, contractor, or consultant) has been convicted of a felony.