"DAVAT"

DEMOCRACY and VOTING and TRUST

"If you cannot trust the way your votes are counted, nothing much else in politics matters."
Presentation delivered in Bellingham, Washington on January 20th, 2005


I'm speaking on the most important part of why we're here today - I believe - the way voting works or doesn't work.

DEMOCRACY - Basis -- electing leaders from among the people.

ELECTING - Process -- making a choice -- and expressing that choice -- and having the totals of everybody's choices added up -- and announcing the totals, thus the winners. There's lots of steps.

WHO'S IN CHARGE? - Each step in an election has somebody in charge - think about these steps:
- choosing - expressing - adding-up - announcing.

ALL THE STEPS ARE IMPORTANT - and every one must be done right. (See the vote-flow graphic.)

TODAY - VOTING AND COUNTING are the elements I'll speak on, because:
  • they are essential
  • the history of troubles
  • my experience as a programmer
  • my involvement
  • most of all, your involvement.
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:
  • Ballots might never get cast --
  • might get delivered but rejected - or...
  • might get delivered, accepted, then miscounted or ignored inside "The Machine" - ...and the counting machines are my special interest, because:
"If you cannot trust the way your votes are counted, nothing much else in politics matters."


NEEDED SOLUTIONS, to hold our full TRUST, are:
  • A Paper Ballot;
  • Verified by the voter, while still in the process of casting the ballot;
  • Transported in a trusted way;
  • Placed in a ballot box, secure and sealed, whether at a pollsite or central office;
  • Counted truthfully;
  • AUDITED with a hand count of paper ballots, to reinforce the truthfulness of the count AND to eliminate (as a deterrent) the ability of insiders to mess with the counting.


THE AUDITING STEPS NEEDED:
  • This AUDITING does not need to be of 100% of the votes. Just a sample will do - maybe 5% of the precincts.
  • This SELECTION of Precincts to AUDIT needs to be done so as to avoid improper influence:
       - NOT while the voting is still going on, since an insider could then trigger "TRUE" on those and mess with the others;
       - NOT after the votes have been announced, since pressure would then be applied to avoid those that an insider had messed with.
  • SELECT the Precincts to AUDIT, by a public random-choice method, like drawing from a hat, just after the polls close and before the totals are announced. That means select between 8: -to- 8:30PM on voting day.
  • ONLY THEN, may the officials ANNOUNCE the (partial, preliminary) results of the early mailed ballots, and proceed as usual.
  • DO the hand-counting paper audit on ALL BALLOTS of the selected precincts, INCLUDING late absentee and provisional ballots.
  • COUNTING will be done by staff and OBSERVED by the public (usually political party observers).
  • REPORT the results of the hand counts, along with the machine counts, preliminary and final.

DEAL WITH THE RESULTS: (define explicit rules for the inevitable imprecision:)
  • IF the hand count matches the machine count (within a tiny percentage), THEN OK.
  • IF the hand count does NOT match the machine count (by a small percentage), then count another group of precincts by hand.
  • IF the hand count does NOT match the machine count (by a significant percentage), then abandon the machine count and count all votes by hand - define the hand count as OFFICIAL.
Because:
"If you cannot trust the way your votes are counted, nothing much else in politics matters."

Thank you.
Marian Beddill

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